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Attorneys representing Horry County and Myrtle Beach squeeze into an elevator as they leave the Horry County Courthouse on Friday after a hearing about the hospitality fee. No ruling was made on Friday after both sides presented their arguments. Horry County contends it has the authority to impose and collect a hospitality fee within the city limits of Myrtle Beach as it has done since 1997. Myrtle Beach contends the original agreement has expired and it has not consented to Horry County collecting the fee within its municipal limits. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

The city of North Myrtle Beach filed a request to hold Horry County in contempt of court after the city of North Myrtle Beach became upset with a recent ruling. 

Earlier this year, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach all passed ordinances taking back the 2.5-percent hospitality fee and 2-percent accommodations tax that the cities and county normally would split.

Then, the city of Myrtle Beach sued Horry County over its continued collection of hospitality fees and accommodations taxes the county was still collecting, on behalf of itself and other similar cities. 

It argued that the agreement for the county to collect those taxes had expired after 2017, and that the tax collection over the last two years was illegal. 

On Tuesday, even after a judge ordered the county to stop collecting the taxes, the county announced that it would still collect its former share of the hospitality fee and accommodations tax. 

That did not sit well with North Myrtle Beach. 

“Until we get this hospitality tax issue straightened out, the county does not need to continue collection of any hospitality fee, because at the present time they’re illegally collecting it,” Mayor Marilyn Hatley told MyHorryNews. “Over the past two years they’ve illegally collected it.”

The mayor suggested that the cities work through the issue with the county to stop it from collecting the hospitality fee and accommodations tax in the city.

"Why would they do that?” she asked. “Why would they drain the hospitality tax from the other cities and not one city? Why would they even consider doing that?” 

But the court may intervene. 

On Wednesday, Myrtle Beach filed a motion on behalf of itself and other similarly situated cities, arguing that Horry County should be held in civil contempt for what it considered an illegal move for the city to continue collecting the 1.5 percent hospitality fee in the other municipalities. 

“The County’s actions evince an unapologetic and callous disregard for the Court’s orders and the integrity of the judicial process,” the city wrote in its motion. “In no manner can this Court countenance such actions and defiance.” 

The city asked that the court find the county in contempt, and order the county to retract the statement issued on Tuesday announcing the continuous collection of the hospitality fee, and to inform the public, the other municipalities and the media that it would not collect the fee until the pending litigation was resolved.

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