Horry council considers raise for fire department during budget retreat

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - During day one of a two-day budget retreat, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus presented a plan that would increase salaries for Horry County Fire Rescue.

Additionally, members of HCFR presented a plan they say will help with overtime issues and response times.

Still, not everyone is impressed with these new plans.

HCFR officials went before council Thursday to present a new way they're responding to medical calls.

"Right now, if you have a knee pain or an ingrown toenail, you're getting a paramedic and right now we're sending more help than required to those people," said HCFR spokesperson Mark Nugent.

Now, the proposed plan could keep the paramedic with the fire engine during basic calls, just in case they're needed for a more severe case.

"We think it will give us a lot better coverage in the county," Nugent said.

Another big change is Lazarus' proposed 3 percent pay increase for firefighters, which is on top of a 3 percent increase for all county employees.

"What we're trying to do is in the fire area is we're trying to bring it up," Lazarus said.

He added the money would come from the fire fund.

IAFF Chapter 4345 president Rob Mullaney said some issues weren't addressed during the meeting.

"I think it's great that they're going to start with raises. The 3 percent across the board is great, the merit base raises is a great idea. Aside from that, not really impressed," Mullaney said. "They didn't cover anything about compression. We have two guys that have been on the jobs for 10+ years and one for two years, and there's a $400 pay difference per year. That's the main reason why there's a retention problem with this department.

Lazarus said compression will come with time.

"We need our starting salary up higher so we can recruit more, so the compression is not going to be as severe because of the sheer numbers that we're dealing with," he said.

The council will have a second vote on Lazarus' proposal on Friday.

Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.