Horry Co. Council makes big budget decisions

Conway, SC - CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Leaders in Horry County voted to not reinstate a 1 percent salary cut proposed by the county administrator in April during a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

Not following through with the reinstatement of the cuts means county employees will receive the same salaries they are currently paid through June 2011.

With thousands still suffering through the tough economy, Horry County Chairwoman Liz Gilland said Tuesday she is happy the council decided to not only preserve salaries, but jobs as well.

"I don't think it was the intention of anyone on council from the first to follow through with a 1 percent cut," Gilland said. "That was probably a smart move by the administrator and the staff to come up with that idea to begin with, but it was probably [an] equally smart move for council to put it back in place, because this year we could."

However, Gilland warns next year's budget could be even more difficult to balance, so discussion on salary cuts could return to the table.

"I do know that next year is a whole different story," Gilland explained. "If we don't begin to go up with the economy, salary cuts could be a last resort for next year."

At Tuesday's meeting, council also set aside $500,000 in a contingency fund for the Coast Regional Transportation Authority, which provides public transportation options for residents of Horry and Georgetown counties.

The Coast RTA will only get the funds set aside by council if voters decided in favor of a county-wide millage increase on the ballot in November. Council will decide on how to phrase the ballot question at their next meeting on June 15.

The idea behind the millage increase, according to officials, is to give the Coast RTA a consistent source of revenue from the county each year.

Council members also decided to give the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation $200,000 instead of the $375,000 in funding previously asked for. In addition, Horry County Council members also decided to hire two people to work under the MBREDC.

With the money, the MBREDC will be able to operate with two employees, a director and an administrative assistant.

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