Myrtle Beach and Horry County have difficulty deciding on a settlement agreement on the current issue of hospitality taxes.
Approximately eight municipalities are involved in the current lawsuit: Horry County, Myrtle Beach, Atlantic Beach, Conway, Loris, Surfside Beach, Aynor, and North Myrtle Beach. But an agreement is mandatory if the intended settlement will work.
The leaders of Conway, Atlantic Beach, and Surfside Beach, voted for the approval of the settlement while Aynor, Loris, and North Myrtle Beach are yet to be determined.
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The main concern for most residents is the main point of discussion happening behind closed doors at the time of the settlement talks.
Our news presenter was able to interview the law experts at Goldfinch Winslow, LLC in Murrels inlet for a couple of questions and answers provided by the viewers. This law agency has worked on the case and can provide some information on the reason, different information concerning the agreement has not been made available. A partner and attorney at the law agency, Thomas Winslow explained that it is important to find out more information about the current issue of who is privileged to collect taxes and fees in their jurisdiction in order to discover the reason behind the privacy of the case.
He stated that the lawsuit began as a jurisdictional contention on if Horry County is eligible to receive tax within a couple of municipalities in the county. He asked if cities such as Myrtle Beach are eligible to collect the taxes generated within its jurisdiction or if the county is also eligible to collect the taxes and fees since the court has determined that the municipalities are within the county.
A 1996 resolution was the underlying cause of the lawsuit, which enabled Horry County to receive a hospitality tax of 1.5%. This resolution was expected to expire in 2017.
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A decree was passed in December 2016 by the county that prolonged the hospitality taxes until the 1st of January, 2022.
The leaders in Myrtle Beach indicated that this development was not mutually consented, which led to the 2019 lawsuit against the county, claiming the theft of millions of dollars in the money generated from hospitality taxes.
Other municipalities subsequently joined in the lawsuit filed by Myrtle Beach.
Winslow stated that an injunction that would bring an abrupt end to this tax collection was filed as William Seals, the Circuit Court Judge indicated that the county would be stopped in the tax collection, although the tax would still be collected but kept in a reserve pending the result of the lawsuit.
The injunction was appealed by Horry County before the case was heard last week by the Supreme Court in South Carolina. The court is yet to decide on the injunction. Winslow indicated that confidentiality is vital towards achieving a settlement that would involve all the parties.
Winslow stated that it is very unlikely that anyone who intends to resolve details to allow the items that would be used for negotiation during the trial open to the public which is the reason most of the negotiations are private as no one wants to be influenced or have the ability to freely speak the truth about the current state of affairs. Therefore, it might be kept private to prevent being exploited since no one knows the underlying truth or what is required to be settled or not.
Some of the residents were concerned and needed a better understanding as to the reason each of the municipalities needs to come to an agreement on the intended settlement before it can work.
This concern was addressed by Winslow by stating that a lawsuit that involves multiple parties, needs to be resolved with the consent of all parties and for the county, the issue is similar for everybody and even though each party won’t have to be in agreement, this kind of lawsuit focuses more on its application instead of its general principle. For instance, a similar rule will be applied to both your kids if you have a seven-year-old and a four-year-old kid.
Winslow also informed residents who were asking about the timeframe of the resolution that it is more important to ensure that the case is handled properly rather than how long it will take.
He continued that they should consider it to be a conventional lawsuit that doesn’t relate to the time for a particular situation to be resolved as it can either take about three years and end up being right or end up being wrong. So, it doesn’t depend on the time, rather, it depends on the facts.
He continued that every little information matters and can be the missing piece of the puzzle, so, getting these pieces together can take time.
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