Horry County Councilman Danny Hardee was chosen by Council Chairman Johnny Gardner to lead the county’s public safety committee, which works directly with Horry County police and fire and looks at ways to keep people at home safe.
County council is divided into several committees that specialize in certain topics and discuss ideas and ordinances before they are presented to council.
Hardee, who has served as chairman of both the Horry County Airport Advisory Committee and the Solid Waste Authority replaces Councilman Al Allen over public safety.
“We have a very fast growing county, it’s expanding by leaps and bounds, and we have an excellent public safety staff,” Hardeee told News13, “And my job that I look at and our goal as council is to aid them and help them in any way we can.”
Hardee said he is ready to hit the ground running, with his first goal as public safety chairman to sit down with the police and fire chiefs and figure out the needs they have right now in their departments.
One of the hot topics that has carried over into 2019 discussions is funding for a new fire station in Longs. Hardee said that’s number one on the list of fire stations to be addressed this year, but a proper funding source will first have to be worked out.
He said conversations about adding a fifth police precinct will continue this year at public safety meetings. “It’s still on the table,” Hardee said, “But here again it goes back to dollars, and we want to make this county as safe as we can, but we don’t want to have to raise taxes if there’s any way we can avoid doing that.”
Both HCPD and HCFR want new personnel, and that’s something Hardee will be tasked with examining as public safety chairman. In 2018, new salary increases were approved for police and fire, but no formal plan was put in place to add more officers.
At council’s fall planning retreat, HCPD noted a fiscal year 2020 need for 16 more patrol officers at a cost of $2.68 million. HCFR’s departmental request for three EMT/firefighters and three fire lieutenants would cost more than $417,000.
“That will be part of our agenda.” Hardee said, “To get with Chief Hill and Chief Tanner and Sheriff Thompson and sit down and figure out what their needs are.”
Hardee’s appointment to chair didn’t come without contention. Councilman Dennis DiSabato thought he would be named to chair the committee.
He spoke in front of council last Thursday saying he felt slighted in Gardner’s decision. “It appears that this is precisely the type of go-along-to-get-along politics that you and your supporters campaigned against,” DiSabato said, addressing Gardner.
Gardner told News13 after the meeting that appointing the different committee chairs was a tough decision. “I may have made a mistake. Time will tell. I don’t think I did, but we’ve got good people and we’ll see what happens,” Gardner said.
Gardner noted that committee chairs can appoint a vice chair to their respective committees and said he encourages them to do so.
The first public safety committee meeting of the year will take place February 12 at 2:00 p.m.