Four new police officers increased by two before the Horry County Council passed third and final reading of its 2013 fiscal year budget.
On first reading, the budget passed with the four additional officers funded from within the $130 million general fund. Before the council passed third reading at Tuesday night’s meeting, Councilman Brent Schulz made the motion to amend the budget and raise that number of new officers to six.
Schulz said the council would be able to get the six officers for less than what they’d estimated they’d need for the four.
Funding for those six officers would come out to $357,000.
Horry County Interim Police Chief Saundra Rhodes said she would stagnate the hiring of the officers to keep the costs as low as possible. Three would be hired on Oct. 1, and the other three would be hired on Jan. 1, 2013.
Four of the officers would be dedicated to patrolling the burgeoning Carolina Forest area.
“Carolina Forest has been hit hard. The crime’s bad,” Schulz said.
Rhodes said the department solves major crimes, like murder and sexual assault, but current staffing only allows officers to be call responsive on small crimes, like theft, that affect the majority of residents.
In addition to the six new officers, Rhodes said she is considering downgrading some lieutenants in order to put more boots on the streets.
Additional police officers was just one of the components of the new budget, which takes effect July 1.
The still-unopened Carolina Forest library will get funding for two full-time and two part-time staff members so the facility can open its doors within the next few months.
Sticking with libraries, another amendment to the budget made Tuesday night was to give $35,000 in funding to the Chapin Library in Myrtle Beach. That amendment passed on an 8-4 vote, with council members Al Allen, Bob Grabowski, Jody Prince and Paul Prince casting the “nay” votes.
Another highlight of the 2013 fiscal year budget is a 1 percent cost of living increase for the county’s roughly 1,800 employees, which they’ll receive on July 1.
That cost of living increase is budgeted at more than $700,000. It’s the first pay increase Horry County employees will receive in four years.
One thing the new budget does not have is a tax increase.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.