HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County Council advanced its 2023 fiscal-year budget Tuesday night, approving the second reading of the $660 million plan after adding $17 million to accommodate new growth in the county.

The plan, which awaits a third and final reading, does not include additional millage or fee increases and includes a 5% pay raise for county employees.

“I’ve talked to previous administrators, and they highly recommend one-two or two mills a year, so before we pass third reading, we need to strongly think of that,” Councilman Danny Hardee said.

Money in the budget will go toward expenses like raising wages and bringing more employees to areas like law enforcement and public works. Fifty-two perfect will go toward public safety, including increasing law enforcement pay, to provide an incentive to get more officers in the department.

Research presented by the county’s assistant administrator for administration, Barry Spivey, showed the number of retiring officers or firefighters is rising but the number of applicants is dropping.

“The climate right now, in the whole nation, is such that if they can find an alternative and not put themselves at risk, then they are choosing that alternative,” Spivey said.

The proposed pay raise would have a three-tier layout to make pay fair.

“[It] would have a no leap-frogging provision, so one person at the top of their tier, one tier, the next person at the bottom of their tier, the next person would not get more than the one before, so we maintain our positions,” Spivey said.