Back to square one for Georgetown Port Dredging funding

Thursday, a task force that supports the dredging of Georgetown's port met for the first time since voters turned down a referendum that would have added a one percent sales tax. That tax was expected to generate 40 million dollars over eight years.

The funding was set to speed up several expensive capital projects, including some of the millions of dollars it's expected to cost to dig out silt that has built up along the Georgetown port passageway.

Since it didn't get passed, many are asking now what?

"There are a lot of needed capital projects, it's sort of disappointing," Jack Scoville, Georgetown Mayor said. "Horry County has had a 1 percent sales tax for a long time and people still leave here all the time to go shopping up there."

The port right now is 19 to 9 feet in some places. To bring it back to the 27 foot depth it's supposed to be is estimated to cost $33 million and take three years, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. It will also cost an additional $4-6 million a year to maintain once it's dredged.

"We have to do some disposal area maintenance. So we'd have some place to put the material that we dredge out of the harbor before we can go in and dredge some additional material," Lisa Metheney with the Army Corps of Engineers said.

Meantime, as a band aid, the Army Corps of Engineers is considering two permits for projects to bring in mooring buoys for big boats that are shipping goods.

"The buoys are a field of buoys where ocean going vessels can come in and anchor and they can offload their cargo onto barges," Tony Fennel said.

State Senator Yancey McGill was at the task for meeting. He told the group the state has about 18 million dollars for dredging the port, but they would need 15 million dollars in local funding-public or private dollars first.