At some point, shouldn’t Myrtle Beach and Horry County leaders be able to resolve their differences outside of a courtroom?

Apparently not.

The county and city seem headed toward yet another legal fight, one that will force the taxpayers to pick up an expensive bill if the two sides turn to outside law firms (which they’ve done in recent years).

What’s frustrating is this is yet another dispute where it seems that a phone call or perhaps a lunch meeting could get the two sides working toward an amicable resolution.

Yet for the third time in two years, the city and the county seem en route to a needless lawsuit. The latest case involves nearly 145 acres that the federal government provided to the city after World War II. The land sits inside Lakewood Camping Resort and PirateLand Family Camping Resort. Although the campground owners have leased the property for years, they recently reached a deal with the city to purchase the land for a combined $60 million. The city plans to keep all of that money.

The rub with the county stems from an agreement that the two sides have to share the lease proceeds from the property. Since 2004, the county has received 75% of the lease money to support Myrtle Beach International Airport. That revenue will disappear with the sale.

County officials maintain that both the 1948 deed to the property from the U.S. Government and the 1953 release from the federal government “are expressly premised on agreement that these properties are intended for the use and benefit of the airport,” according to a Nov. 6 letter from the county administrator to the city manager.

“The city obligated itself to ‘utilize any revenue derived from the use, lease, or disposition’ of the properties for the benefit of the airport,” that letter states.

The city, however, contends its agreement with the county is strictly about lease revenues, not the proceeds from a sale.

Last month, the county indicated in a court filing that it intends to sue the city over the property.

This is yet another sad sign of the poor communication between the city and the county, and it appears the feuding councils will continue to spend more money on lawsuits rather than engage in some difficult but needed dialogue. While each side would likely argue that they are looking out for their respective interests, they ignore some practical realities: Myrtle Beach residents are also citizens of Horry County; and in this case, the city’s decision involves Myrtle Beach International Airport, a piece of county-owned infrastructure that is of great importance to the city.

The lease agreement generates millions for airport operations. At the very least, it seems like some thought should be given to the impact of cutting off those dollars.

A common refrain over this pandemic-plagued year has been that “we’re all in this together.” It’s supposed to remind us of the importance of unity, that everyone’s needs are important and not just those of a single person or group. 

Some elected officials still haven’t grasped the message.

For questions about Waccamaw Publishers' editorials, contact editor Charles Perry at charles.perry@myhorrynews.com.

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