Update October 25th: The City of Myrtle Beach voted today to require the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to provide more detailed financial information.
The requirement is to report both revenue and expenses related to the Tourism Development Fee. In theory, these reports will show that all public tax dollars are being spent entirely on out of market tourism promotion. The Sun News has more details. Read it here.
First Report: While digging deeper into the $300,000 exchange between the Chamber and Coastal Uncorked, The Sun News has determined that the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce may be entirely dependent on public dollars for their current operations.
The Sun News reports that Chamber membership dues don't come any where close to covering the $2 million dollar payroll that includes the Chamber President Brad Dean's $285,000 salary. Over 80% of the total revenue reported in the Chamber's 2010 tax returns come from the $26 million public dollars received by the Chamber. $20 million of that amount came from the controversial Tourism Development Fee which is designated to only be spent on out of market promotion and advertising. The Sun News has the break down and details in their story. Read it here.
The Chamber has long been adamant that they simply manage the Tourism Development Fee money. Things like questionable campaign donations and support of Coastal Uncorked never involve public dollars. It's difficult to see that given the numbers presented by The Sun News and the ambiguous accountability reports submitted by the Chamber. As a private corporation, the Chamber is not required by law to divulge their internal accounting practices.
All of this is compounded by the continual investigation of the campaign contributions that were allegedly doled out to politicians that supported the Tourism Development Fee plan. While the South Carolina Ethics Committee determined there was nothing illegal about the transactions, stories keep popping up (scroll down) about most of the corporations that made the donations had no existing cash on hand before the contributions were made.