City leaders set goals for the future of Myrtle Beach

MB Council Retreat - Part 1

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -City Council members and department heads met Wednesday for the first day of the City Council retreat.

Leaders used the day to present individual department plans, address key city concerns and set goals for the following year.

In the beginning of the day, officials identified top objectives for the retreat as discussing crisis management, stormwater, and infrastructure plans.

Everything from tree protection to lack of workforce housing were discussed.

Here’s a recap of some of the top issues discussed:

Economic Growth has slowed and anticipated to slow more in the future.

The outlook is not only in Myrtle Beach but across the country, said Chief Financial Officer Mike Shelton. This comes after nine years of upward trends in revenue from fees related to tourism like business licenses fees, hospitality fees and the state accommodation tax. As the city plans for long-term projects, need to be conscious of this impact. The city has already started preparing by initiating a soft-freeze on rehiring open position and exploring opportunities for outsourcing services.

Many violent crimes throughout Myrtle Beach decreased over the last year

Part 1 Crimes like aggravated assault and robberies decreased by 21 percent between 2017 and 2018. Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock attributed this decrease to various factors including increased internal communication, the assistance of additional outside agency officers on weekends and engagement with the business community. Burglaries in the downtown district during the high-season did increase this season. Last season there were no burglaries in the area but there were 16 burglaries this year. Prock said these are preventable and residents need to remember to lock their belongings.

MB Council Retreat - Part 2

Myrtle is considering adding historic districts

The city does not have any regulations to mandate historic preservation or any incentives for preservation. Planning Department leader Carol Coleman said preservation would be beneficial to economic development within the city. The city outlined multiple districts in the area from ocean forest to Broadway to Burchap Drive. There are federal and state tax credits that could be used to provide incentive to owners and residents. Mayor Brenda Bethune said this is a key component as the city looks to revitalization and attracting investors.

The city has a need for more affordable housing to allow people to live closer to their jobs.

City manager John Pederson said this is a missed opportunity. He said if people can’t afford to live here they are going to be spending the money they make in Myrtle Beach outside of city limits. The city may create a workforce housing commission that could buy property specifically for workforce housing development and establishing a development loan program. Some of the financial options proposed included grants, foreclosures and using a portion of fees associated with new construction.

A stormwater plan will address water quality across the entire city for the first time.

Myrtle Beach invested $74 million between 1994 and 2014 for storm water infrastructure improvements. Public Works director Janet Curry says this had a tremendous impact following Florence. So now the city is shifting to study water quality. This will be the first time the city looks at water quality from a city-wide perspective. Curry says this will have an impact when Myrtle Beach makes development decisions. It’ll start by looking at Withers Basin for its pilot study. From there the procedures adopted will be implemented across the city. On November 14, the city will hold a public forum to allow residents the chance to voice flooding and stormwater management concerns. Curry said the overall goals is to find sustainable solution to improve water quality.

The council will resume for the final day of the retreat on Thursday.

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