Horry County Council voted to pay the county magistrates retroactive to FY 2017 for a pay raise that was voted by council but never instituted.
Council voted a three percent pay raise for all county employees beginning FY 2017. The magistrates also received a 3.5% pay raise from the state budget beginning that year.
Despite being included in the county budget to exclude the county three percent raise for the magistrates.
Council member Al Allen questioned how the county got to the point where the magistrates had to threaten to sue the county in order to receive a pay raise approved by county council.
“The public needs to understand how we got here,” Allen said. “Who made that choice?”
Despite the presence of all senior staff at the meeting, not one had the integrity to step up and say they made the decision.
According to several sources inside county government, administrator Chris Eldridge made the decision to exclude the magistrates from the council approved budget pay raise.
Allen made the point that eliminating the magistrates from the pay raise amounted to an amendment to the county budget not approved by council. It takes a three reading budget amendment ordinance passed by an absolute super majority of council (9 yes votes) to amend the budget once it is approved.
Apparently Eldridge believes he can do it by executive fiat.
The magistrates item was not the only pay issue discussed by council.
At the regular meeting two weeks ago, council members Dennis DiSabato and Cam Crawford requested staff to prepare a study to compare the cost of the current merit raise pay policy of the county to a more standard pay scale for public safety employees, such as the one used in other counties throughout the state and in the military.
Instead, assistant administrator Justin Powell and Eldridge briefed council on a study commissioned to compare Horry County employee compensation with 15 similar counties in the region.