Police raises, new hires and health insurance: A first look at the new county budget

Horry County council.
Horry County council. jlee@thesunnews.com

Horry County’s proposed $170.7 million operating budget includes raises for everyone, four new detention officers, a fourth litter crew and increases in the county’s contribution to the state retirement system.

The new budget presented at the spring budget retreat includes an average of a 3 percent merit-based pay increase for all employees.

“As we go through this budget we’re talking about significant raises in out merit-based system,” said council chair Mark Lazarus.

On top of that, the budget recommends pay increase for many law enforcement officers.

Starting pay for Horry County police is around $36,000. During the fall budget retreat, the county announced a plan to fund Coast RTA with $6.50 from the county’s $50 road fee fund, freeing up $1 million for police pay increases.

“Our recommendation is a $1 per hour for Class 1, 2, and 3 officers,” said County Administrator Chris Eldridge.

The budget also includes four detention center officers to address the findings from a state-mandated staffing study.

Other highlights include additional staff in code enforcement, paving three miles of dirt roads, resurfacing 35 miles of paved roads and increases in the county’s contributions to health insurance plans and the state retirement system.

“For the employee benefit, there’s a lot of counties and cities across the country that are putting raises on the employees’ backs,” Lazarus said. “We’re absorbing in our budget … the mess that was created in Columbia. I think we’re doing an exceptional job and we’ll continue to do that.”

The budget also includes proposals to address pay and staffing issues in fire and EMS, but officials are not releasing the specifics until later in the day.

Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian