Myrtle Beach city officials gathered downtown on Wednesday to kick off their annual two day budget retreat.
The retreat is a chance for leaders to determine what factors are going to impact finances for the city, including more than one pending lawsuit involving Horry County.
Mayor Brenda Bethune started the budget retreat by reading a letter addressed to Horry County chair Johnny Gardner, regarding the recent lawsuit filed by The City of Myrtle Beach against the the county.
“A lot of questions, a lot of issues.” said Mayor Brenda Bethune.
The city says the county has collected a 1.5% hospitality fee without their consent since January 1, 2017 to help with the county’s I-73 project.
That money, she says, can be instead used for public safety.
“First and foremost our responsibility is to the citizens of Myrtle Beach and the businesses who invest here, so the moneys are collected here, they need to stay here, for our public safety needs and other needs,” said Mayor Bethune.
A different pending lawsuit was also brought up, filed back in December. Horry County leaders wanted to build a new school in the Market Common but Myrtle Beach leaders didn’t include money to build the school in their redevelopment plan.
Now, City Manager John Pederson says nearly $10 sits untouched until the suit resolved. He estimates the amount will grow to $15 within the next year.
“Some years we don’t have lawsuits that threaten our financial our financial abilities, this year we do have a couple of large issues we are dealing with.” said Pederson.
Part of Wednesday’s budget recommendation involved a $3 million tax increase to fund 10 new police officers, just as they did last year.
“I mean this past year we had a 17% reduction of part one crimes, that’s a really good lick, we aren’t going to ruin that success now by stopping the plan.” said Pederson.
The full reccomended budget will be announced Thursday morning.
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