Letters to the Editor

Letter | Perception, performance and parity, as applied to the minimum wage and Horry County Council.

Perception about the minimum wage is usually a “counter worker, or burger flipper” working at a dead end job, or struggling. But those in those jobs serve the public to the best of their ability, and more times than not, are raising a family, going to advanced schooling, and trying to improve their status, the same as we are.

The performance of and for a minimum wage job is usually tied to a system of advancement, longevity and loyalty to the employer. Most times it is a “stepping stone” to a better situation in the future, either with the same employer, or moving on and up.

Parity in a minimum wage job is “usually” guaranteed. Do your shift, do your “due diligence” and you will receive your remuneration in kind, as do your fellow workers. No extra effort, no hard decisions, no pressure.

Now apply these attributes to the Horry County Council itself, and their department heads, subordinates, political allies, and “friends” of the system.

What you find is:

▪ They are well above the “minimum wage” earners in comparison. Generally, their “raises” are arbitrary or tied to an extrapolated “budget” and not performance.

▪ Their “perks” far outnumber any minimum wage job benefits, or even what the emergency services or police receive.

▪ The administrator, the public information officer, and many others are arbitrarily paid well above any “average” entry level job, or by one who has toiled “in the trenches” so to speak, to arrive at a living wage.

Now that you have digested that information, think about a recent news story concerning “the turnover” in the EMS, fire and police departments of Horry County, and why that is happening. The article speaks about losing trained personnel, and they wonder why. If the minimum wage was to be raised to $15 per hour, many of those “turnovers,” those public protectors, those 24-hour workers, those individuals who place their lives on the line for us during these work days, would receive a substantial raise, and they would not have to leave. Council, through department heads, limit overtime for many, due to money problems, yet there are those insiders who make more than double their salaries, in overtime, because of system abuses, “call outs,” or other manufactured reasons. Where is the parity in these cases?

We need money for roads, schools, traffic alleviation, building maintenance and repairs. We need the traffic situation of the Highway 501 corridor remedied from Carolina Forest Boulevard to Coastal Carolina, and the International Drive and Forestbrook Road resolved before the insulting-to-residents salary package offered to the County Administrator.

How long has the County Council known about the Carolina Forest corridor? How much serious thought has gone into the solution, allocation of monies, and the alleviation of the safety hazards” of this road. If it has been given serious thought, and I will give the Council the benefit of the doubt, then why have these issues taken so long to resolve? Carolina Forest did not drop out of the sky, it has been growing for many budget cycles.

Further recent talks by the Council proposes more loss of money/benefits for the EMS sector, plus a raise in property taxes. [The 7.2 mill property tax increase was approved June 16.]

So, consider giving the EMS, the fire and the police parity with the rest of the county staff. Give them the benefit of a raise like the Administrator has garnered. Compare their salaries, work load, and the service they give, to the staff at the County Buildings, and do the right thing. When was the last time these full-time servants had something given to them, and not taken away due to “extrapolated” budget constraints.

Treat all of your employees equally, so that a firefighter, patrolman or EMS worker can afford to take his family to a fast food restaurant, and be served by a “minimum wage” earner, as he is, and where both are trying to continue the middle class dream of education, housing, and parity.

These public servants live here, pay taxes here and send their children to school here. Will the cut in pay/benefits help pay their proposed increase in taxes, will the loss of more of their “earned” benefits help morale, longevity, retention or the dedication they have to the county?

Horry County is in danger of losing its “Independent Republic” status, as it adopts the “me too” attitude of other area political entities, and loses the uniqueness that we live here for.

The writer lives in Conway.