Tag: Horry County tax increase

Stop the Horry County Council Tax Increase

The tax increase FY 2016 budget of Horry County Council remains a major topic of conversation throughout the county.

Council will vote on third reading of what could be the largest Horry County tax increase in a generation at its regular meeting Tuesday June 16, 2015.

Why it all became necessary within the last month is the real story.

During both the fall and spring budget retreats of Horry County Council, as well as first reading of the budget, the discussion was of a balanced budget with no tax increase.

Then, council voted a new contract for county administrator Chris Eldridge with annual pay increases of $10,000 and a six month severance package. The only thing Eldridge is guaranteed is the severance package as council can vote to terminate him at any time, but, if he remains for several years, he will receive annual increases of $10,000.

Upset at the possible pay increases for Eldridge, the county employees, especially those in public safety departments, began an organized campaign of calling council members to complain.

A majority of Horry County Council members were intimidated enough to completely restructure the budget to include somewhere in excess of $4 million for a pay increase for all county employees. (The county has still not answered our request for the total amount being dedicated to the pay increase.)

To mask their intimidation, those council members supporting the tax increase have verbalized things like a shrinking excess reserve fund and the need to better pay public safety employees as their justification for the tax increase.

But, nothing has really changed from first reading of the budget. No tax increase is needed this year. And nothing in the budget increase will pay for new HCPD patrol officers meaning no reduction in response times or increased community policing will result from this massive increase.

Bureaucracy to prevail at expense of the taxpayer

SC General Assembly Fails Local Government

It can be argued that the SC General Assembly is at least partially responsible for a large tax increase being considered in Horry County.

There is something called the Local Government Fund that is mandated by state law. It evolved from a group of taxes due to cities and counties collected by the state government.

To simplify the return of this money, the SC General Assembly, in 1991, passed a law that states 4.5 percent of the previous fiscal year’s general fund revenue must be divided between counties (83.3%) and cities (16.7%) based on population.

This Local Government Fund may not be cut below the 4.5% level without separate and specific legislation being passed.

In many years at least since 2000, the SC General Assembly passed an annual legislative exception (separate and specific legislation) to the 4.5% required Local Government Fund.


Because a significant number of members in both houses of the SC General Assembly hate local government and would like to see Home Rule done away with.

Since the passage of Act 388 of 2006, the SC General Assembly has directly interfered with local governments’ ability to fund local services and has used the annual exceptions to LGF amounts to continue to further restrict local government revenues.

Horry County Tax Increase Not for Public Safety

The proposed Horry County tax increase being considered by Horry County Council will not provide much benefit to public safety services.

This is contrary to what has been publicized about it – a tax increase for public safety.

The proposal does include adding seven new detectives, only four of which will serve the county directly. No new patrol officers will be added, according to information provided to Horry County Council members at last Wednesday’s budget workshop.

According to county officials, 63% of the county’s general fund budget is spent on the Department of Public Safety. Since 2006, the Department of Public Safety has absorbed the bulk of the increase in the budget.

In that sense and that sense only, the proposed 7.2 mil tax increase can be considered a public safety increase.

However, as council member Harold Worley said at last week’s Horry County Council budget workshop, not one penny of the tax increase will go toward putting one extra officer on the street. Response times will not go down nor will community policing increase because of the tax increase.

The tax increase is really a response by Horry County Council to widespread discontent among county employees with respect to the new four year contract, including $10,000 per year pay increases, approved recently for Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge.

Horry County Council Considers Major Tax Increase

A major tax increase will be proposed at the Horry County Council budget workshop Wednesday May 27, 2015.

According to county sources familiar with the plan, taxes for the Horry County general fund budget will be proposed to increase up to 23% (8.25 mils added to the current 35.6 general fund millage).

In addition, an increase of 67% will be requested on the county road fee to bring it up to $50 per private vehicle.

The tax increase is being parsed as providing needed money for the Horry County Police Department, Sheriff’s office and Solicitor’s office with the preponderance of it going to HCPD.

But, it also includes an across the board pay increase for all county employees plus providing money for a proposed merit, incentive pay raise plan.

And it must be remembered, while the general fund tax increase will apply to all property holders in Horry County, those who live in the incorporated municipalities gain essentially no benefit from HCPD.

Taxing someone for services they don’t receive isn’t supposed to be included in conservative Republican lingo.

Just a few years ago, a tax increase of this size for the general fund budget would have never made it into Horry County Council budget discussions.

But, with one-third of the council having been replaced since 2012, the times they are a changing.