Higher wages, higher taxes discussed in proposed Myrtle Beach budget | News

Police and firefighters could be the highest paid in the state if the proposed budget passes in Myrtle Beach.

City leaders reviewed the proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year at Thursday’s monthly workshop. The budget must undergo a public hearing and pass two votes before entering into force.

The proposed budget includes wage increases for the city‘s approximately 990 employees and a $10 million increase in property taxes.

The city’s proposed budget of $292 million is primarily for public safety. There are 25 new police officer positions funded in addition to 22 other new positions spread across other city departments, from the sewer department to three-person right-of-way maintenance at the north end.

If approved, the city’s police will receive a 12.18% pay raise, or about $6,446 a year. The city’s firefighters will receive a 5.68% wage increase, or about $3,710 per year.

“What we’re going through right now is something we’ve never seen before,” City Manager Fox Simons said, referring to rising inflation and competition with employee wages. “It has a cost.”

The cost line in the proposed budget is $5.8 million more than last year. This includes an increase in wages and benefits.

Overall, the minimum wage increases from $12.71 to $15.75 or from $26,436 to $32,760 annually.

In addition to minimum wage employees, the city operates under three different pay grades – general, police department, and fire department.

There are approximately 420 employees who fall within the general pay scale and each could receive approximately 7% or $3,567 more per year.

The city recently conducted a salary and compensation study with other cities, and city staff determined that Myrtle Beach employees were underpaid. The city is adhering to the seven-year police recruitment and retention plan which calls for 10 new officers per year. This year, Simons said, is the fifth year.

In March, there were 48 vacancies in the police, police spokesman Tom Vest said. He added that in addition to potentially becoming the highest paid officers in the state, the current operating budget allows for relocation incentives of $4,000 and certified officers are eligible for a 10% salary increase.

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