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.