Building Boom in Horry County
Horry County has agreed to terms with its new top administrator.
On Tuesday, Steve Gosnell officially accepted the position after signing a contract laying out his salary and benefits. He will be paid $204,937 a year with benefits, including health insurance and an $8,400 car allowance.
He was given a three-year contract — with optional yearly extensions after the first three years — that includes raises that will be in line with the annual pay increases all employees receive, Horry County Chairman Johnny Gardner said.
“We’re happy to have it done and behind us and able to move forward,” Gardner said.
The contract was approved by a 10 to 1 vote at County Council’s Tuesday meeting with Council Member Tyler Servant voting against it. Al Allen was unable to attend the meeting. Gosnell was on vacation during the meeting.
The terms of the administrator contract were discussed in executive session behind closed doors. No discussion was held in public.
The administrator reports directly to council and is in charge of the non-elected staff. The position covers all parts of county government, including public safety, finance and infrastructure.
Gosnell previously served as an assistant administrator, and has spent over 26 years working for Horry County within the infrastructure and regulation departments.
In June, Gosnell applied for the administrator position, beating four other finalists for the job.
During his tenure as interim administrator, Gosnell oversaw the creation of the current county budget that included annual pay raises for staff members.
He took the interim administrator job in April when former Administrator Chris Eldridge resigned following months of attempts to fire him after he asked the S.C. Law Enforcement Division to investigate Gardner. Votes to outright fire Eldridge failed.
In April, Council negotiated a $300,000 deal with Eldridge that led to him resigning.
Most of the contract treats Gosnell like any other employee, but it clearly outlines possible termination procedures. Gosnell will only receive a payout of his paid leave if he’s terminated for poor performance.
If he is fired for another reason other than job performance between now and May 3, 2021, he gets two months of pay, paid leave payout and benefits. Termination without cause can include changes to the position that Gosnell doesn’t like, resignation following council asking him to resign or a vote by the majority of council.
If Gosnell is fired during a period from May 4, 2021, through July 9, 2022, he gets six months of salary and benefits.
According to the contract, Gosnell finds the termination terms “reasonable and acceptable.” In order to get these benefits, he also agreed to sign a release dropping any further claims he might have against the county if he is fired without cause.