MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Myrtle Beach city leaders are handing out 3 percent pay raises for city employees as part of the budget for 2012-2013. Last year, only merit raises up to 3 percent were available to city employees, but this year council members wanted to offer an across the board raise.
City leaders say an improving economy is part of the reason they are able to offer the raises. Council member Susan Grissom Means stated, "Cost of living has increased so much over the past few years. So I felt it was important for them to get an across the board raise."
City Manager Tom Leath added, "They have worked very hard at working smarter, working longer...trying to keep cost down, so city council would not have to raise taxes, and we've not raised taxes and so at this point they deserve some recognition for that."
Leath said more than 800 city employees will be getting that 3 percent raise starting in July. Out of the total $152 million budget those raises total up to $800,000.
Council member Wayne Gray said, "This is everyone. Police, fire, public works, street maintenance, solid waste and other employees that work in the office whether it be finance or budget or planning or zoning."
There is also a proposal to increase the mayor's salary from about $30,000 to almost $60,000 starting in 2014. Council members said they had been working to make that change for years.
"We've been discussing it for about two years on and off. The mayor's job has gotten so demanding time wise and travel wise. It really has become a full time job," explains Means.
Gray added, "We've studied and evaluated what other communities may or may not do. We've studied more importantly the time demands of that office. So we felt like...that it was appropriate to consider that office have increased compensation."
Means said the money is already there to provide for the increase.
"Because of the accommodations and hospitality tax and a lot of those things have picked up so much it has freed up money so we were able to do the three percent," he states.
Gray adds, "It comes from the general fund...which is the collection of property taxes, business license and other fees that the city earns in providing its services."
This budget has already passed a second reading so it will be going into effect July 1, 2012.