Horry County Council votes to cut ties with administrator

Horry County Council votes to cut ties with administrator

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County Council voted Tuesday night to relieve the administrator of his duties.

Horry County council members went into an executive session where they discussed Chris Eldridge’s employment with the county. They voted 9-2 to move forward with a separation package.

The only two members of council who voted against the vote were Tyler Servant and Bill Howard.

Servant was about to discuss why he voted no at Tuesday’s meeting, but he was cut off by other council members as he almost revealed confidential information behind the agreement.

Eldridge is no longer an employee of Horry County effective immediately. Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner said the county may announce an acting administrator Wednesday.

Councilman Johnny Vaught said the search for Eldridge’s replacement will probably be a national search, and the search will probably be conducted by an outside firm.

Vaught said he believed Eldridge was a good administrator, and he was sad to see him go, but he said it was in the county’s best interest to get rid of him due to the friction between him and Gardner.

Eldridge’s job has been a heated topic of conversation ever since he asked the State Law Enforcement Division to look into possible extortion after he claimed that Gardner, who was newly sworn-in as the Horry County Council chairman, tried to manipulate Sandy Davis, director of the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation, during a lunch meeting with Luke Barefoot, an associate of Gardner’s.

SLED investigated the claims and 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson cleared Gardner of the extortion allegations after reviewing SLED’s report.

At the council’s March 5 meeting, a motion to terminate Eldridge’s employment died in a 6-6 tie. It was preceded by nearly two hours of fiery exchange between council members.

Later in March, negotiations began to put together a “termination package” for Eldridge.

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