Public safety a focus in Myrtle Beach proposed budget; council passes first reading

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Myrtle Beach city council Tuesday passed the first reading of its proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

Public safety is a big focus for city council, and that’s reflected in the proposal.

The proposed budget calls for 10 new police officers. Six would be patrol and four would be special operations. It also would raise salaries at the fire department.

“Our council has been very resolute in the support we give our public safety,” Mayor Brenda Bethune said. “Ten new officers and really getting our fire department salaries where they needed to be. And that was through a study we did to make sure we were comparable to other municipalities and really paying our people the best we possibly can.”

The budget also would allocate millions toward the city’s capital improvement plan. That includes some major projects in the Arts and Innovation District, along Ocean Boulevard and projects involving storm water.

The city expects business license and tourism driven tax and fee revenues to compare to pre-pandemic levels.

Here’s how the budget could effect your wallet.

The city has proposed raising fees on a few services after a consultant said rates are below other nearby municipalities.

Things that could increase are the storm water fee along with charges for water and sewer. Cemetery services could also rise to get closer to market value.

“A lot of our fees were below market rates and that’s important we look at those things and continue to evaluate them,” Mayor Bethune said. “Our financial staff has done an incredible job of taking those things into account. But also making sure we protect our residents and that’s what we’ve done.”

Many services wouldn’t see an increase under the proposal. Fees for solid waste, sports tourism and the convention center of all examples of ones that wouldn’t increase. There are no proposed increases on property taxes or business license fees either.

“We want to be a really business friendly city so the business license fees are not being increased,” Mayor Bethune said. “And I think that’s a way we want people to see — we’re a place that you want to come do business.”

City council also passed the first reading of an ordinance that would add ‘indoor passive recreation’ to some of the Market Common’s zoning uses. That’s for businesses like escape rooms.

Council also proclaimed June 2021 as Pride Month in the City of Myrtle Beach during Tuesday’s meeting.

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