NMB dredging project dead in the water?
A $10 million City of North Myrtle Beach project hit a road block thanks to Governor Nikki Haley.
Earlier this week she vetoed a bill that would allow the city to tax homeowners. The extra money would help fund a project to dredge the Cherry Grove canal.
For the last 16 years, Richard and Nelson Hartley have enjoyed the view from their back porch. The Cherry Grove canal, in particular, was a selling point.
"When we saw it we thought it was beautiful. The view we liked. The people we liked and we love water," said Richard.
He's in favor of the dredging project and so are others who call Cherry Grove home.
"If they don't dredge those canals, we've boated back there from time to time basically they're ditches with soot and dirt. They're pretty much unusable," said John Malia. "I haven't spoken with anyone I know that I know that's against it."
But Gov. Haley isn't sold on the project. She vetoed a bill that would allow a tax on homeowners that would pay for the dredging, saying it gives districts the right to tax without homeowners' consent.
A city representative said homeowners will be allowed to vote for the tax, it would only last for a specific amount of time, and thinks her actions are shortsighted.
"There appears to be sort of a continuing conflict or standoff between the governor's office and the legislature and we feel that our legislation probably got caught up in that," explained Pat Dowling, city of North Myrtle Beach Public Information Officer.
"I was disappointed, definitely, I don't think the dredging process itself had anything to do with her veto. She was reacting to what she perceived to be a tax increase," added Malia.
The city says property values are at stake with the dredging project, and they are hoping for a legislative override.
"The legislation that we are talking about passed the House 100 to nothing and it passed the Senate 31 to 9. So, it's legislation that has very strong support in both houses," said Dowling. "Quite honestly without the tax assessment district there will be no project. It's unaffordable."
Haley's decision also impacted Georgetown County. Officials there want to add dredging to the project list to be paid for by a potential one cent sales tax.