This story has been corrected.
Surfside Beach passed a budget this week that did not raise property taxes, but some in the town said its crumbling pier should be the top financial priority.
“Until decisions are made about the pier, this town should not be spending money on anything except town services,” said resident Steve Shore at the Tuesday night meeting when the budget was passed.
The $11 million budget keeps property tax levels even at 46.2 mills, the same rate since 2015. It includes $125,000 in fees for emergency management consultant Hagerty Consulting, but Town Administrator Micki Fellner said the town may end up paying less than that amount. The budget also included $200,000 for engineering. If engineering does not cost the full amount, some of those funds may be used to rebuild the peer itself, Fellner said.
The town has also budgeted roughly $1.5 million for other capital projects around the town, including $625,000 for the Myrtle Swash bridge.
The Surfside Pier was damaged during Hurricane Matthew last October, when several hundred feet were ripped off the end of the wooden structure. Some area piers are struggling to bounce back after the storm.
Officials in Surfside recently announced that depending on the scope of work Town Council authorizes, the pier may not be repaired until 2019, a year later than originally hoped, as officials work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to procure funding.
On Tuesday, Councilman David Pellegrino was skeptical that working with the federal government would yield results on time.
“We’re working with the U.S. government, and unfortunately they don’t do anything quickly,” he said.
Pellegrino added, “It’ll be a miracle if we have a pier by 2019 with FEMA doing it, I’ll just tell you that right now.”
Fellner said consultants are expected to come to town in eight to 10 weeks to present the results of a survey of the area.
A previous version of this story misstated the timeline for when consultants were expected to report on a survey of the area and incorrectly described funding for the pier’s engineering and design.