FAA Considers Asking For Its Grant Money Back
It appears the new terminal project at Myrtle Beach
International Airport can be pretty much termed a failure. The
Federal Aviation Administration revoked Horry County's authority to
collect $111 million in passenger fees that was to pay for a new
terminal over the course of 20 years.
The county was set to begin a passenger fee collection this
summer but dropped the idea when the terminal project was nixed in
As ANN reported, the FAA
granted about $16 million to Horry County, SC for expansion of the
MYR terminal. But, the Community Appearance Board rejected the new
$229 million terminal after four months of intense workshops...
that focused mainly on the building's physical appearance.
Board members said a new
terminal, planned for the west side of the runway, would have been
too close to a residential development on the former Air Force Base
next to the airport.
The FAA is interested in just how much of its grant money Horry
County spent on terminal plans and may ask that some or all of the
money be repaid, said Scott Seritt, manager of the FAA's Atlanta
"We have expended millions of dollars on planning, environmental
and design," Seritt wrote to Horry County Council Chairwoman Liz
Gilland in April. "While we believe that everyone has acted in good
faith and have been blindsided by an unexpected turn of events, we
will need to reconcile the expenditure of the federal funds."
Any repayments might hinge on the timeline of the board review,
which began when the board first rejected the project in December
and continued through the final board vote, Seritt said.
"At what point did we suspect this project was going to be voted
down by the Community Appearance Board, was that $1 million ago or
was it $5 million ago?" he said. "In a reasonable, prudent process,
would we have stopped three months ago?"
Councilman Harold Worley said the FAA should not be asking for
the money back.
"We were partners," he said. "How could they agree and then come
and say, 'We want our money back.'"
Horry County could end up owing up to $16 million that's been
paid out over eight years of work on the terminal, according to the
FAA. A review of the overall financial situation will likely occur
in the next month, according to Seritt. The FAA has not made any
allegations of misuse of federal funds.
"We have been giving them a little bit of time to wrap up their
final cost," he said.
As hopes and plans for a new terminal fade, another effort to
expand MYR is forming.
An ad hoc committee of county lawmakers, city officials and
businessmen are to meet sometime next week to continue discussions
of expanding the current eight-gate terminal, according to The Sun
News, although finding funding might be a problem.
"That's where it makes sense, and you are going to save an awful
lot of money," said Myrtle Beach Mayor and committee member John