Sunday’s editorial wishes for more accountability when it comes to the tax money put to use or sought by local chambers of commerce.
This past Monday, the state’s deadline for putting questions to the voters on the Nov. 2 ballot came and went with little fanfare.
The North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce held two information sessions on the tax just over a week ago, and chamber spokeswoman Jennifer Prince said Friday that the 100 or so attendees at each meeting seemed increasingly receptive to the idea the more they heard about it. Prince said the chamber is now preparing to ask the North Myrtle Beach City Council to schedule a first workshop meeting to begin the process of passing the tax, a timeline that Prince said does not include a referendum to the voters.
“If it went to referendum, we could almost guarantee it’s not going to pass,” Prince said. “What it would take to educate people on the tax is a lot of advertising, a lot of money, and we just don’t have that.
“We’re not trying to trick anybody,” Prince continued. “We’re being upfront, and once we get the money, we’re accountable for every dollar.”
It’s deeply unfortunate that this chamber is following the same trail blazed by their counterparts in
The passing of the deadline is likewise a missed opportunity in
Further, the amount actually collected by the sales tax has significantly exceeded the city’s initial projections, meaning that people are definitely spending more inside the city of
But is that information even available? The chamber made grand promises that it would be, but has only half fulfilled them. On their website now are two reports, one from May 2009 to March 2010, and a second from April to June of this year. Quarterly reports were promised, yet the first report lumps more than three quarters together. The second report lacks a column describing overall spending, so it’s unclear how the use of these tax dollars has changed from quarter to quarter.
The reports break out the different sources of the tax money being spent – the sales tax, accommodations tax or state matching money – but completely omit any reporting on the private-funding side of the equation, in direct contradiction to the promises made at the time of the tax’s passage. The state gave us $5 million in matching funds last year, which is supposed to mean the chamber had to prove to the state it raised $10 million in private contributions for the same out-of-state ads. That money simply is not included in the reports, or if it is, not in any intelligible way.
The cumulative effect of these shortcomings in the report is that