Horry County council discusses options to make up for tight budg - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Horry County council discusses options to make up for tight budget

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Council is working to figure out how to give its departments what they want and need for the area's growth, while balancing a restrictive budget.

Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge presented the difficulties in creating the 2016 budget and possible ways to alleviate them during a budget meeting Wednesday at 2 p.m.

He said the costs the county must pay are higher than the revenue the county is bringing in from growth.

Healthcare and retirement expenses are increasing every year. The local government fund from the state legislature is falling $4 million dollars short for Horry County this year.

Also, while tourism brings in money, it costs the county in public safety expenses such as ambulance rides and jail stays. Nearly $10 million of the tourism costs aren't covered under ATAX and HTAX.

The county is also responsible for $19 million of unfunded state mandates.

There is an $8 million hole being filled this year with money from the general fund, but that will leave the general fund at $5.4 million next year, so county council is searching for ways to make up for that.

There is a proposed millage increase of 7.2 mills, which comes to $13.5 million of extra money. That would cost an individual resident $28.80 per $100,000 of home.

The money would go specifically toward public safety improvements including salary raises for law enforcement officers to be competitive with other areas, body cameras, gang unit detectives, more attorneys to lighten the solicitor's office caseload as well as some other public safety-related additions.

Council also talked about raising business license and building permit fees to bring in extra money, adding impact fees for developers to pay for infrastructure, increasing road maintenance fees or implementing a local option sales tax.

No binding votes were taken Wednesday.

There will be a mini budget workshop at 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, before the second reading of the budget at the council meeting. The third reading and public comment will be June 16.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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