HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County is proposing a property tax and stormwater fee increase to help solve staffing shortages in every public safety department.
“We need to fix our broken system. Our public safety is not where it needs to be,” said councilman Bill Howard in Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting.
The committee says raising property taxes could be the answer. A proposed 4.8 millage increase was discussed to cover staffing needs. County officials estimate an increase between $60 and $100 on a $200,000 home.
Public safety departments say the money will be spent on staffing, equipment, and salary increases to retain current employees.
Horry County Police Chief, Joseph Hill, says in a recent shooting incident departments almost “ran out of people.” Hill says if another large scale emergency were to have happened at the same time, there would have been a significant increase of danger to the public.
Horry County 911 is operating with less than 10 telecommunicators who are answering emergency calls and dispatching crews at the same time. Officials say their employees are having to choose which calls to answer first.
Howard says its time to solve the problem and keep the county safe.
“We’re just putting band-aids on all of this,” Howard said. “We’re not doing our job as council. I think we have a council that’s scared to raise property taxes. I’m not scared. We need to raise these taxes to get our public safety where it needs to be.”
The proposed millage increase will be reviewed in its first reading in upcoming weeks.
The Infrastructure and Regulation Committee is also proposing an increase to stormwater fees to meet the growing needs of the county. Officials say increasing fees are the only option, if the county wants to see results.
The county’s current stormwater fee sits at $44.90 and could be raised to $80.40, if passed. That’s around a $45 increase for a single family home.
Officials say the funding will allow the county to condemn $600,000 worth of easements, allowing crews to clear drains and prevent flooding. The money would also fund 10 new excavators, two wetland crews, and four beaver trapper positions.
Officials say with enough staffing, operators could be assigned to districts within the county. Making more availability for equipment and moving projects faster.
The stormwater fee increase will be reviewed in its second reading in upcoming weeks.
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