City of Myrtle Beach officials are expecting to spend close to $32.9 million on police officers and equipment in 2019, resulting in a 3.8 percent increase on property taxes.
In order to pay for the cost, Michelle Shumpert, director of the city’s finance management and reporting department, suggested the property tax increase for both residents and non-residents, beginning in 2019.
City officials already have accounted for the pay raises in this year’s budget.
If city officials approve a proposed budget for 2019, city residents could soon see a tax increase of 4 percent. Those who own commercial property or a vacation home could see a tax increase of 6 percent.
"So for a $200,000 house, they’re going to pay an extra $36," city spokesman Mark Kruea said. "That’s what 3 mills means to a commercial property or to non-owner occupied residential property."
This means that taxes owed on the $200,000 home would near $966.
The cost comes after Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock presented a police retention and recruitment plan, as well as a plan to hire 10 new police officers each year for seven years.
In order to retain officers, Prock suggested a 4-percent raise for each member of the department, totaling nearly 316 positions for both sworn and non-sworn officers.
The plan implemented an automatic 1.75-percent market increase for all sworn officers and dispatchers, plus a 3-percent merit increase and a market rate salary adjustment of 5 percent, which began Jan. 12.
These increases mean that new hires who are not certified would receive $40,000 starting salary, and new hires who are certified would start with a $44,000 salary.
Over the course of 10 years, staff could receive a 45-percent pay increase. The increase is broken down as:
- Years two through four: 4-percent increase
- Year five: 3.75-percent increase
- Years six through seven: 3.5-percent increase
- Years eight through 10: 3-percent increase
The plan to hire more officers was presented in October. For 2018, Prock said six officers out of the 10 needed to follow through with the plan already were hired.
"It’s been a long time," since the department had that few vacancies, Prock said.
At this time last year, Prock said there were about 20 vacancies in the department.
"It is a community-wide enhancer," Myrtle Beach Councilman Phil Render said. "It was something we simply had to do to get to where we needed to be, not just for the city but for the whole community."