MYRTLE BEACH — Bringing business back to Loris and helping the city run more efficiently are top priorities for the candidates in Tuesday’s race for Loris City Council.
Four candidates are running for the city’s three nonpartisan seats: Mike Suggs, Lewis Hardee, Casey Ward and Ricky Dew. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and voters can cast their ballots at one of two sites: Loris Elementary School for East Loris and the Loris Public Safety Building for West Loris.
Hardee, an incumbent, and Ward said their main issues are the survival of local businesses and efforts to bring more business to Loris.
“We do have several good industries here, but we still need to continue trying to bring others in,” Hardee said. “I think the best thing we can do is make Loris as business friendly as possible. We have tried to keep taxes as low as possible, but that can also put a strain on your revenue, which makes it harder to provide city services. Thankfully, we have been able to stay in good financial shape through the slow economy.”
Ward said local government needs to create an economic plan that will attract commercial and industrial development in Loris.
“We also need to find ways to not only attract new businesses, but also create an environment where these businesses can grow and thrive,” he said.
Dew said he wants to ensure that the citizens’ concerns receive the council’s attention, to improve public works and to work with the recreation department to keep players in local sports instead of losing them to other municipalities. Hardee said there has been a strain on city administration since the city’s public works director, Rodney Hardee, died unexpectedly earlier this year, and that Loris also has been without a city administrator for some time.
“I feel it is very important to fill this position as soon as we can. ... we need a person in place on a permanent basis,” Hardee said.
Suggs, also an incumbent, said the 2014 budget is being prepared with no property tax millage increase anticipated, but the city council should look for ways to cut expenses and maximize the return on each dollar of taxpayer money so that effective city services can be maintained during challenging economic times without placing an undue burden on city taxpayers.
“Capital expenditures should be carefully planned and the filling of vacant positions carefully evaluated in order to ensure that the city has the revenue and cash flow necessary to maintain services and operate efficiently without the necessity of a property tax increase,” he said.
Loris also needs to update and improve its aging infrastructure, such as streets, sidewalks and water and sewer systems, to meet future demand and allow for growth, Suggs said. Funding is key, he said, and the city must search for funding sources, such as grants and/or low interest loans, to make key improvements possible.
“In the coming year, construction should begin on Phase 6 of the Streetscape program,” Suggs said. “This project is funded by a state grant, which will place utility lines underground and allow improvements to the streets and sidewalks along a section of Main Street. This is one example of the city council’s successful effort to find a source of revenue other than property taxes to fund infrastructure improvements in Loris.”
Another example is the construction of the police and fire departments’ building, which opened in summer 2012 and was funded with grants and low-interest loans, he said.
Dew said he is concerned that the turnout has been low in past elections, and he is encouraging people to vote and be a part of the process.
Ward said he also would like to see local government encourage more participation from citizens, as well as seek input from citizens and business owners with regard to important issues facing the community.
“I want to help improve the strong relations that exist between our citizens and various departments within our city government,” Ward said.
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.