Myrtle Beach budget focuses on neighborhood, anti-crime, sports - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach budget focuses on neighborhood, anti-crime, sports tourism initiatives

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - While the 2015 fiscal year is on target to have the highest spending by the Myrtle Beach City Council in years, the city said it is doing it without increasing taxes.

Council leaders have budgeted spending nearly $176 million. If the budget is approved upon second reading Tuesday, it would go into effect July 1.

City leaders say they do not need to raise your taxes to have this money thanks to a stronger economy. Plus, city spokesperson Mark Kruea also says better management, more people spending time and money in the city, and the real estate industry doing better are also helpful factors.

City leaders plan to spend that money on six strategic initiatives proposed by recently-appointed city manager, John Pedersen. Those include:

· Neighborhood initiatives: improving citizens' quality of life

· Anti-crime initiatives: addressing clean-up efforts and more aggressive code enforcement

· Sports tourism initiatives: to train, equip, and retain officers

· Product development initiatives: to increase direct visitor spending

· Organizational development initiatives: to enhance the city's competitive edge versus other resort cities

· Downtown redevelopment initiatives: to increase millennial involvement

These initiatives give the council a guiding hand on how to move forward for future spending.

Part of the proposed budget would include a 5-percent pay raise for police and fire personnel, not including chiefs.

Also coming back for this coming year are merit pay increases. While this isn't necessarily a new concept, it has been years since it's been in place within the city. And that is mainly because of the recession, according to Kruea. While Myrtle Beach is a tourist and seasonal town, the city's leaders believe it is time to acknowledge the emergency responders for all they do year round.

In addition, the city is considering hiring 19 new employees. The city has around 850 people employed currently. But this is the first time in a while that this many new positions have been created. Nine of those new positions could potentially be firefighters, if the city is awarded a specific grant.

“If we get the grant, we will certainly hire the personnel,” says Kruea. “It is a matching grant, so we would budget the money into the budget to pay for that matching portion, but it's dependent on that grant.”

Currently, Myrtle Beach has an ISO rating of one, which is the best a city can get. City leaders want to continue to strengthen that team, while continuing to grow with the population of the city.

The other ten positions, for code enforcement, maintenance workers, and support staff, will be hired using other funds.

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