Myrtle Beach City Council hosted a raucous special meeting Tuesday with home and business owners voicing their outrage at recent shooting incidents on Ocean Boulevard and in other parts of the city.
It was a good move by city council, allowing the meeting to act as a pressure valve relieving some of the pent up frustration felt by citizens by having it voiced directly to council and city staff in a public forum.
That frustration ran from blaming city officials for ignoring the city’s problems and threatening defeat of the four incumbent council members up for reelection in November to calling for martial law to be declared in the city.
Many of the comments were rough and pointed, one citizen even asking John Rhodes if he would immediately resign as mayor. However, council took the criticism stoically because solutions are more important at this point than verbal jousting contests.
While many of the comments fell short of suggesting solutions for the violence problems in the city, several were on point.
Several citizens suggested using money from the one cent local option ‘tourism development fee’ (ad tax) to fund more police officers.
Former Mayor Mark McBride was most forceful in this line of thinking noting that the city’s police force had not expanded since he left office at the end of 2005.
To be fair, the city has installed over 800 cameras that are constantly monitored to help with public safety response and were very helpful during this past weekend’s incidents.
McBride called for 50 percent, approximately $10 million, to be redirected from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s out of area advertising to funding additional police officers as well as providing raises for current officers.