The Town of Surfside Beach plans to divert funding away from beach renourishment and toward construction of a new pier.
On May 28, the Town Council passed the first vote on an ordinance that would defer an annual $75,000-transfer from both the accommodations tax fund and hospitality fund to the town's renourishment fund. The move would allow the town to put that money toward construction of a new pier.
The town's wooden pier was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Plans call for a new, concrete pier to be built. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing a nearly $10 million grant to the town for the project. The town will need to finance the project before being reimbursed, according to Mayor Bob Childs.
Following last year's beach renourishment, Town Finance director Diana King told council the next round of renourishment isn’t expected until 2028. The town's renourishment fund currently has a balance of just over $650,000.
"We wanted to use the money that we had earmarked, the $75,000 from each fund, to help pay for the pier, so we wanted to put that into the pier fund instead," King said.
In 2017, Town Council adopted an ordinance in which accommodations tax and hospitality funds would both transfer $75,000 annually to beach renourishment. The new ordinance calls for that process to stop for two years, until 2021, meaning $300,000 could be diverted toward the pier.
According to the June 2017 ordinance, beginning in fiscal year 2019-20, the pier fund would have transferred $50,000 to beach renourishment. But the latest ordinance puts that process on hold.
"It'll be the only concrete pier in the state of South Carolina,” said Surfside town Councilman Randle Stevens about the upcoming pier project. “It's going to be a good thing for the town of Surfside. It's going to produce a lot of revenue."
Town officials hope the new pier will be complete within a couple of years.
The new ordinance also establishes a stormwater management utility fund to hold stormwater fees collected though property taxes. Some citizens have shown concern that the funds would be used for other purposes, so the ordinance specifically states “Said funds shall not be expropriated for other uses and shall be solely reserved for the purpose of the stormwater utility and its programs, projects, administration and enforcement.”
Second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for June 25.