Pawleys Island officials have voted to seek bids for a beach renourishment project estimated at $11.8 million, but some are worried about the proposed funding package.
Multiple people said at Town Council's meeting Monday night that they were concerned about the proposal, which would deplete the town's beach management fund. The account has accumulated roughly $5.5 million in local accommodations tax revenue over 17 years, Town Administrator Ryan Fabbri said. Fabbri also anticipates receiving a grant from the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for slightly more than $4 million.
The rest would be covered by debt, which would be paid off by future accommodations tax revenue.
"I think everyone’s in favor of doing it, but I just think some people want to do it in a more fiscally responsible way," Fabbri said.
The island, on the south end of the Grand Strand, hasn't had a large-scale renourishment project since 1989, when the groins were rebuilt and sand was pumped in between, Mayor Bill Otis said.
The town also has not received federal funding to help rebuild its beach in recent decades, unlike the rest of the Grand Strand and other South Carolina beach communities.
"In looking for federal funding ... it’s kind of like every man for himself," Otis said. "If there’s a limit to the amount of funding, everybody’s going to make sure they can cover their needs first."
However, Horry County communities recently lobbied the federal government together as they sought money for renourishment there. The north and south ends of the county are on their way to completing the re-sanding process after securing emergency funding in March. Myrtle Beach was granted its federal funding in May.
Like other areas of the South Carolina coast, Pawleys Island was battered by Hurricane Matthew last year as the storm pushed a significant amount of sand off the beach and onto the street behind the first row of homes. The remnants of Hurricane Irma were not as destructive last month, but that storm still displaced sand, Fabbri said.
He said the beach erosion is "getting worse. That’s why it's so important now."