Myrtle Beach City Council continues budget discussions

Myrtle Beach City Council continues budget discussions

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach City Council members discussed the FY2016-2017 budget at a special meeting Tuesday, including how the city faces a gap between how quickly the costs of services are increasing compared to the rate at which revenues are growing.

"I believe that the city provides a really high level of services," City Manager John Pedersen said.

The average household in Myrtle Beach pays $1,443.29 each year, which is enough money to buy two bullet-proof vests, 96 children's books for the library, pave 79 linear feet of road or purchase one hazardous material suit for a firefighter.

The city is considering increasing property taxes by three mills to make $1 million in revenue this upcoming fiscal year. Other strategies are being used to balance out finances for the future as well, while still improving what the city offers its residents.

The city is hoping to focus fee increases on the people using specific services.

"We're starting the process of more correctly costing out our services and more correctly costing some of the fees that apply to those services, so that the general body of taxpayers that aren't consuming that service aren't being required to pay for it," Pedersen said.

One way the city is looking at doing that is by increasing fees for sports facilities.

"We have matured a little bit as an industry here," Pedersen said. "We're at the point where we can start to more closely recoup our correct costs from the sports tourism activity."

The facilities at Doug Shaw Stadium are up for a $4 million dollar upgrade.

Myrtle Beach is also hoping to tap into another kind of tourism and improve quality of life for locals by building a performing arts center and amphitheater near the sports center. Construction could begin as soon as fall 2016.

"I think the country music festival last year showed us there's a significant market that we really haven't touched the surface of," Pedersen said.

City council heard recommendations for that facility from the performing arts center director in High Point, NC during Tuesday's meeting.

The proposed budget also includes a pay raise for city employees of more than 4 percent.

"City employees have done a really good job at being first in service for a number of years," Pedersen said. "I think this is the year city council is going to recognize that."

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