Horry County Council will consider including a pay for performance program in the county budget for the 2014 fiscal year in an effort to reward county employees for hard work.
County officials discussed the program during their budget retreat Thursday.
The move comes after years of tough economic times that have seen county employees go without raises. The county’s turnover rate is also higher than nearby counties and municipalities.
The program would reward county employees for their hard work by offering them between 1 and 3 percent performance pay.
“I do think it’s important to give people that motivation,” said Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge.
The funding for the program would come from the county’s proposed $136.6 million general fund for the upcoming fiscal year that beings July 1.
Patrick Owens, with county human resources, said the advantages of a pay for performance program is rewarding top performers for their hard work and retaining key performers. Some of the disadvantages he listed were possible damages to teamwork, and money may not motivate everyone.
Still he said, it’s a program he considers worthwhile that could improve job performance.
“It’s going to take everyone persevering through a learning process,” Owens said.
Councilman Bob Grabowski asked Owens if employee performance is a problem right now. He responded that it could always be better.
By offering a pay for performance initiative, some felt it could help Horry County retain more of its employees.
According to information presented during the retreat, Horry County’s employee turnover rate for 2012 was 13.04 percent. That compares to the 6.25 percent for Myrtle Beach, 9.75 percent at Coastal Carolina University, 12 percent in Charleston County and 16 percent in Richland County.
Employee compensation has been on the council’s wish list for some time, following several years of economic hardships.
In November, the council approved a budget amendment that allowed for all county employees to receive a one-time holiday bonus.
Before diving into employee compensation and other items looking ahead to the upcoming budget, County Council was briefed on how the current fiscal year 2013 budget will wind up when it ends on June 30.
Budget director Westley Sawyer said revenues are projected to be $3.9 million over what is currently budgeted, while expenses are expected to be $7.4 million under budget.
As of Feb. 28, revenue was up $4.3 million, Sawyer added.
Eldridge said there is more revenue expected in the proposed 2014 fiscal year budget as well.
“Things aren’t great, but they are better than in years past,” he said.
County staff and representatives from agencies like Coast RTA and the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation also gave reports and presentations to County Council, and stayed at the podiums for any questions.
Surprisingly, there weren’t many questions from the council and the Thursday session moved along at a quick pace.
“You all are being so easy on staff,” said chairman pro-tem Gary Loftus just before breaking for lunch.
Councilman Carl Schwartzkopf said it could be that council members hadn’t studied the proposed budget enough before the start of the retreat.
“It’s obvious from the comments, or the lack of comments, very little effort has been put into doing our homework,” he said.
The budget retreat continues Friday.