PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina state lawmakers are set to discuss the immediate fate of the Palmetto State’s beaches Tuesday afternoon. They’ll consider whether or not to help fund beach re-nourishment, repairing one of the state’s most vital tourist attractions.
Lawmakers are having this discussion because of a number of constraints on the state budget, including the state’s pension fund, and infrastructure projects.
However, Senator Stephen Goldfinch says the state can’t afford to not help fund re-nourishment, considering Horry and Georgetown Counties provide 30% of the state’s tax revenue, much of which comes from beach tourism, according to Sen. Goldfinch.
“Do you think that people would come to South Carolina, Myrtle Beach specifically, Pawleys Island specifically, if we didn’t have a beach? And the answer, I think, is very clearly ‘no’. We have to take care of our beaches, because that’s the draw,” Goldfinch emphasizes.
“If you go walk the beach right now, from North Myrtle Beach to Georgetown, you’d be appalled at what you saw. The beach is literally not there in some places. We cannot allow that to happen,” urges the senator.
Goldfinch says he feels encouraged that fellow Senator Harvey Peeler has called a subcommittee hearing to discuss whether the state should continue to fund beach re-nourishment.
“He’s got a record of saying beach re-nourishment is like throwing money into the ocean,” Goldfinch says of Peeler. “That’s concerning, but his letter to me is that he’s coming into the meeting with an open mind.”
Goldfinch says because of Hurricane Matthew, Horry and Georgetown Counties could need up to $50 million for beach re-nourishment.
“We’re going to sink the counties and the municipalities, if the state doesn’t chip in,” says Goldfinch.
Director of Coastal Carolina University’s Marine and Wetland Studies Center Dr. Paul Gayes says if the state doesn’t continue to nourish beaches, the repercussions will be worse during the next natural disaster.
“If we don’t have another hurricane for another 100 years, then there’s no worry,” explains Dr. Gayes. “But if another storm comes in next year, and we haven’t had re-nourishment, then the effects on our infrastructure will be a lot worse than they would have been otherwise.”
Goldfinch says one way or another, Grand Strand beaches will receive the care they deserve.
“That money is going to come from the state. It’s just a matter of how we’re going to get it there,” Goldfinch states. “We cannot continue to shortfall these counties and municipalities from local funding for beach re-nourishment. It can’t happen anymore.”
Anyone wishing to voice their support or concerns for beach re-nourishment is encouraged to contact Senator Harvey S. Peeler, Jr., at P.O. Box 142, Columbia, SC 29202. Email Sen. Peeler, or call Sen. Peeler at 803-212-6430.
Contact information for Georgetown County senators is below:
Senator Stephen Goldfinch
P.O. Box 142
Columbia, SC 29202
Phone: (803) 212-6116
Senator Ronnie Sabb
P.O. Box 142
Columbia, SC 29202
Phone: (803) 212-6032