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Horry County, Myrtle Beach lawsuit is over; hospitality fees will come back to Horry County

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Horry County and the city of Myrtle Beach reached a final agreement over the two year long hospitality fee lawsuit. File/Nick Masuda/Staff 

HORRY COUNTY — The more than two-year long battle between Horry County and the city of Myrtle Beach over a hospitality fee has come to an end. 

In February, all municipalities in Horry County from Aynor to North Myrtle Beach approved a preliminary settlement, and on April 16 it was finally approved. 

With the approval of the lawsuit all areas of Horry County can began to charge hospitality fees again, starting July 1. And any areas that were charging more than the 1.5 percent fee will need to lower their fee. 

The $19 million which was up for debate will be put in an account for anyone who paid the 1.5 percent hospitality fee from Jan. 1, 2017 through Aug. 1, 2019. On May 15, the official process for the claims will be closed but anyone who was in the Myrtle Beach area during that time will have up to three years to still reach out to the city to get their money back. 

Once the three years is up, the trust account will open and the money can be used by the municipalities for tourism-related expenses.

After May 15, what is left of $19 million will be spread accordingly: 

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  • 50 percent will go to tourism-related infrastructure projects;
  • 25 percent will go to the Bar Association as a donation to its charity;
  • 25 percent will be what is held in a trust for 3 years to pay any future claims for anyone who paid the hospitality fee. 

The majority of 50 percent of the funds that will go to tourism-related infrastructure will go to Myrtle Beach, as they will be allowed to keep the fee revenue collected within the city. Any other municipalities will be allowed to file a claim for 100 percent of the revenue collected within their respective borders. 

Seven out of Horry County's eight municipalities will be able to claim their revenue this includes; Atlantic Beach, Aynor, Conway, Loris, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach.

As most lodging happens in Myrtle Beach they will receive the majority of the money. 

The 25 percent that will be going to the South Carolina Bar Association will not pay for attorney fees, nor will any of the $19 million. 

Reach Alex Brizee at 843-637-9881. Follow her on Twitter @alexbrizee. 

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