Council member supports tax increase to help fund Horry County Fire Rescue

County officials seek tax hike to fund HCFR
Published: May. 31, 2013 at 5:30 AM EDT|Updated: May. 31, 2013 at 11:58 AM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – There is a chance for a tax increase for all property owners in the unincorporated sections of Horry County.

Horry County Fire Rescue Chief Fred Crosby says the department needs you to pay more in property taxes, so it can continue to work diligently for your safety. On Tuesday night, Horry County Council members will have a second reading on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, that includes whether or not to pass a fire fund tax mill increase.

On Thursday night, County Councilman Al Allen held an informational meeting in an effort to help community members understand the importance of the increase. Allen is in favor of increasing the fire tax millage.

"Anytime there's a talk of a tax increase or a mill increase, so often we're so quick to jump to conclusions in a negative way but it needs to be explained so the citizens can understand what crucial issues we're facing and why that there is a need out there," Councilman Allen said.

Two weeks ago Horry County Council held a workshop and held an in-depth discussion on what would happen if they were to raise millage rate tax by 3.5, and what would happen if they didn't.

Chief Crosby says if there is a 3.5 mill increase, the department will be able to sustain itself the way it is right now. Chief Crosby proposed other options, stating that if taxes were raised even more, the department would be able to operate at a more efficient level.

As for how this will affect you, WMBF News is told a 3.5 tax increase would come to an extra $14 per $100,000 in the value of your home.

Chief Crosby says if the 3.5 mills aren't approved, several steps of action will be taken in an effort to keep the fire department afloat. Some of those steps of action include eliminating at least 28 career firefighter positions and shutting down at least three fire stations. If stations are shut down, several resident's ISO ratings will spike. Jody Nyers lives in Conway, directly across the street from station 27- one of the stations slated to close if the tax increase isn't approved.

"My insurance services organization (ISO) would increase from five to 10, essentially meaning that the nearest fire station is over five miles but less than 10 miles away. That would change my homeowner's insurance and directly affect us. I was informed by our agent, that our annual cost from $1,836 to $4,126," Nyers said.

"It's a big deal, and it affects everyone," County Councilman Bob Grabowski said. "And we have to do our due diligence on this one. Anything that's going to affect the tax rate for the people of Horry County, the people deserve to know exactly what is going on, and why their tax rates are going to go up."

Tuesday's council meeting will be the last time anyone in the community can voice an opinion on whether they are in favor or against the tax increase.

After that, the decision will be left up to council.

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