Horry County Council discuss county administrator review, RIDE III approval and restaurant row changes

Horry County Council discuss county administrator review, RIDE III approval and restaurant row changes

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It was a busy Tuesday for Horry County Council, as there were a lot of big topics on their agenda.

The issue that will likely affect the most people - locals and visitors alike - was the second reading of the RIDE III Sales Tax plan.

It has just one more council reading before going on the referendum ballot in November.

Tuesday night was supposed to be the public hearing for the the 13 proposed RIDE III projects, including improvements to U.S. 501. However, no one spoke up when the time came, so council approved the second reading and moved on to other issues.

Tuesday's executive session focused on Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge's annual review.

It comes about a month after he made the decision to help former Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes get full retirement benefits.

The county paid more than $61,000 into the state retirement program. According to Eldridge's contract, he's set to get a $10,000 pay raise this summer, and Chairman Mark Lazarus said Eldridge deserves it.

County raises will be based on merit this year, and Eldridge could get up to 3 percent more money on top of the raise he will already get within his contract.

Following the executive session, county council moved on to other topics, including the new fiscal year's budget.

Most council members approved the second reading of the budget, which includes merit raises for all county employees. But in the process, one spoke out that he believed only public safety officials should receive the merit raise

"Public safety is always No. 1 in my book, and it should be No. 1 in every single council member's books and something we need to always be considering to invest in," Councilman Tyler Servant said.

No other council members supported his motion. The proposed budget was approved as it stands for the second reading.

Next up was the change in restrictions for the overlay of Restaurant Row. Officials said they want to see more economic development in the area, and they believed the only way to do that is to give business owners more flexibility.

County leaders approved the second reading of a change in an existing ordinance that would lessen the requirements put on those businesses. That's a move several people were happy to see happen.

"We want businesses to feel free to come here and develop our property and use it in a way that is best for everybody," said attorney Preston Brittain.

Brittain represents a number of business owners in the area.

A few other ordinances that passed their second readings Tuesday included:

  • the removal of the Hidden Woods special tax district
  • a lease agreement with Project Crown for a hangar at myrtle beach international airport
  • a change in zoning to allow livestock and animals on property as small as 1.5 acres
  • a change in zoning to allow for small wineries, breweries and distilleries.

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