City of MB cuts almost $10M from 2020-21 budget, addresses safety plans for protests

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The City of Myrtle Beach announced plans to cut nearly 10 million dollars from the 2020-21 budget.

The city’s budget retreat was held Thursday in council chambers.

A 5% cut was needed to help balance the impact of COVID-19, but not all departments will see a decrease.

City Budget Director, Michelle Shumpert, says public landscaping drives tourism dollars and cannot be cut from the budget.

Shumpert says public safety funding was also another department that could not be compromised.

She says most of the budget cuts are internal to the city.

“We have the ability to do that because of good management of some of our reserves and other funds,” said Shumpert.

“Those are short term, one time cuts, but they are what has helped us. Those with those other small cuts here and there, they’re what is enabled us or have enabled us to maintain service and not raise the fees on our citizens.”

The city says it will not imposed property tax or water and sewer rate increases for the 2020-21 fiscal year, adding that residents have suffered enough financial burden during the pandemic.

A hiring freeze of season part-time and some full-time city positions will also help save money.

The city says it will postpone several projects and not upgrade city vehicles for a year.

A proposed ambassador program was also revisited during the budget meeting.

Both council and the police department agreed the addition of the program would benefit the city.

“It’s a partnership program. It’s another set of eyes that can be in the areas in order to be able to see what’s going on in our community. But also providing a social aspect. Working with our community, working with our businesses to hear what is going on in our community and to be able to provide that information to us. To be able to work on it and take action,” said Chief Amy Prock.

The proposal will need to be voted on at an upcoming council meeting.

The police department is preparing for a second protest within city limits.

A peaceful protest is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Grand Park of the Market Common.

On Thursday windows of the police station are still boarded with steel.

Prock says they will stay that way “until we are comfortable with how protest events are focused.”

Last week protesters marched to Plyler Park and when they returned to the police department, they were met with twice as many officers in riot gear.

News13 asked Prock if protesters could expect police in riot gear for the upcoming protest.

“The focus, again, is a peaceful protest. The only time that we decide to engage in any other activity is if we have to enforce the laws and that’s what the importance of this is. But again, that is why if we get to work with the organizers it really helps to be able to address these situations,” said Prock.

Prock says she has spoken with event organizers and communication will be their best tool.

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