A bill that would allow municipalities to use tourism revenue to fund drainage projects and flood abatement efforts is working its way through the S.C. Legislature.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that he supports the bill, S.917, sponsored by Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston.
The Senate Finance Committee Sales and Income Tax Subcommittee unanimously approved the bill, which will now go to the full Senate Finance Committee.
Tecklenburg said in his State of the City address earlier this month that he wants to see a change in state law to allow municipalities to use tourism revenue to fund flood-related infrastructure projects.
Under current law, revenue from state accommodations taxes, local accommodations taxes and local hospitality taxes can fund a variety of tourism-related initiatives, such as festivals, roads, convention centers and marketing efforts.
This bill would expand the law to also include flood-related projects.
Tecklenburg said that rising sea levels and new developments exacerbate the flooding problems the city already faces from high tides, storms and hurricanes. High water often makes roads impassable and damages homes and businesses.
City officials said using tourism funds to pay for drainage improvements would benefit residents and tourists.
“I’d like to thank Sen. Kimpson and the subcommittee members for their support on this critical initiative,” Tecklenburg said in a news release. “Finding solutions for flooding and drainage — and ways to pay for those solutions — is our city’s top long-range priority. This approval puts us one step closer to making sure the six million tourists who visit Charleston will be able to help pay for the projects needed to protect our city into the future.”