MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) – The millage rate for the Murrells Inlet/Garden City area could increase by six points over the next four years if it passes a referendum vote slated for July, according to George Oldroyd, secretary of the Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District's board of directors.
"We're looking to get an increase in our millage to increase our income so we can meet our expenses," said Oldroyd.
The millage rate is currently at 14 for the area. If this referendum passes, Oldroyd said over a period of four years, the millage rate could be raised by six points. The increase would start with four points in 2019, no increase in 2020 and a 1-point increase in both 2021 and 2022.
The goal of the proposed millage increase is to generate money for more personnel.
"The large piece of the pie of our budget is personnel and that's the same for everybody in the public safety services. Personnel is the lion share of the budget," said Oldroyd.
Brian Stout, owner of Brian's Tires off U.S. 17, said a building just behind his business went up in flames once before.
"If there's another fire in the area, what are we going to do?" Stout said.
That's why Stout said he's in favor of the increase if it means keeping everyone safe.
"There's so much growth going on in the area - housing, business, you name it. I don't think right now they're totally prepared for all the needs that could occur, so I'm all for whatever they need," he said.
Horry and Georgetown counties approved the referendum date set for July 24. Those who live within the parameters of the Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District and are registered voters will be able to cast their vote.
Oldroyd says the major income source for the fire district is property taxes.
"The public deserves to have highly motivated, professional, well-trained personnel," he said.