Myrtle Beach’s city manager and budget director are looking for ways to include a 2 percent bonus for city employees in the proposed budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
City manager Tom Leath and budget director Michael Shelton presented a budget to the City Council during a budget retreat in Pinopolis on April 17 that did not include pay increases for city employees.
“We’re working on trying to come up with any additional revenue that we can estimate coming in,” Shelton said. “We’re about 45 days beyond where we were when we first put the proposed budget together. In some cases we have a little better information about revenues now.”
Shelton said if the city is able to calculate that there will be a one-time increase in revenue, they would likely be able to use that money to fund the bonuses. An example of one-time revenue could be if the city collects a large amount of money in delinquent taxes, that’s money that wouldn’t be guaranteed in years to come, Shelton said.
City staff will decide if the bonus would go toward the employee’s salary or be given as a one-time cash bonus, Leath said.
“We’re still trying to see if we can afford either of those two options,” he said.
There are about 830 full-time city employees and a few hundred more part-time or temporary employees, Leath said. He said it will depend on how much revenue, if any, city staff is able to estimate for this fiscal year’s budget.
Leath said if there is enough money in the budget, he’d like to be able to give bonuses to all city employees, full-time, part-time and temporary. Shelton said it is likely the bonus would only be applied to full-time employees.
In the current fiscal year employees received an across-the-board 3 percent raise. City employees received a merit raise of up to 3 percent last fiscal year.
On the second day of the three-day the budget retreat, Leath told the council he hoped to find a way to include a 2 percent, across-the-board bonus for city employees in January.
Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means suggested basing the bonus on merit instead of awarding it across the board.
“I just think performance should be rewarded something,” Means said. “And lack of performance shouldn’t be rewarded. And it would save some money that it wouldn’t if you gave everybody 2 percent.”
In order to include the raise, Leath and Shelton have to find a way to balance the $157.8 million proposed budget, which would not increase the 66.1 mills property tax rate, which remains at 66.1 mills. Last year’s total budget was $152.8 million.
City staff has until second reading of the proposed budget ordinance to apply the bonuses. The first reading is scheduled for May 14.