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      Horry County votes to give Coast RTA over $1 million

      Coast RTA will be receiving more than $1 million from Horry County.

      The council voted Tuesday night to approve a funding agreement with the regional transportation authority.

      "I am so excited that we are able to secure the funds from Horry County and continue to operate service to the residents of Horry County," said Coast RTA's Interim General Manager and CEO Julie Norton-Dew.

      Some council members view this decision as a fresh start for Grand Strand's transit service.

      "I think that's very important. When the new CEO whoever that might be comes on board there will be clean books for it to get started with and move forward so I think it's a new beginning not only for coast RTA but for Horry County Council, and the people of Horry County," said Council Chairman Mark Lazarus.

      We talked to Norton-Dew about the service plans to do moving forward now with a secured commitment from county council.

      "We are going to be rolling out some projects in the next year. Some of the things we need to do is look at our bus fleet we need to look at signage and we just need to make sure we give the best quality of service that we can," Norton-Dew said.

      She added Coast RTA is looking at giving its employees raises in the future.

      A week ago Coast RTA's board met in a specially called meeting to go over the funding agreement with the county.

      The board took issue with a number of the clauses in the funding agreement, including one that laid out a schedule for when the funds from the county would be disbursed and said that each of the four disbursements was contingent on the county council approving it in a resolution.

      That clause also gives county the right to review invoices, proof of payments and agreements with third parties provided by Coast RTA before making scheduled payments. Julie Norton-Dew, the Interim General Manager and CEO of Coast RTA, said that clause would cause problems with other agencies it has to outline its budget for, including the South Carolina Department of Transportation and the Federal Transportation Authority.

      Gary Loftus, the Coast RTA Board Member representing Horry County, said the council was open to some changes being made but said overall "the whole key is County Council wants a little bit more oversight than they currently have" of Coast RTA and its finances.

      Coast RTA board members also pointed out that while the county says in the agreement that it can be cancelled with 10 days of written notice, it takes at least 45 days to cancel a route.

      Coast RTA had one week to come to an agreement with the county on the specifics of the funding agreement or else they risked losing $1,055,000 in county funding, as well as federal matching funds.