Horry County leaders reached a tentative agreement with Steve Gosnell last week that would make the longtime engineer the county’s next administrator, officials said.
Although the deal won’t be finalized until council members approve the contract at their Aug. 13 meeting, council chairman Johnny Gardner said he’s confident that both council members and Gosnell are satisfied.
“I feel comfortable we’ve reached a fair agreement,” he said. “It’s fair to him but fair to the county [as well].”
Gardner declined to discuss the terms of the deal, but myhorrynews.com has confirmed Gosnell’s proposed salary will be about $205,000. He will also continue to receive his car allowance of $8,400.
The negotiated salary is less than the nearly $218,000 Gosnell makes as interim administrator — that amount was the salary of his predecessor Chris Eldridge — but it’s more than he was paid as the assistant administrator over the infrastructure and regulation division. He made about $170,000 per year in that position.
Council members approved a 4.4 percent raise for all county employees in June, and Gosnell’s proposed salary is midway between what he would have received as an assistant getting that raise and what the interim administrator position with the raise would be paid.
The contract discussions began after council members voted 11-1 on July 9 to enter negotiations with Gosnell, who has worked for the county for 26 years. County officials cited Gosnell’s history of service and support from county employees in their decision to offer him the job.
A six-member council committee was appointed to negotiate with Gosnell and they met behind closed doors with him on July 22. After the meeting, Gosnell and Gardner continued to hammer out the remaining details.
The proposed contract would span three years and includes one-year renewal options after that.
Through a spokeswoman, Gosnell declined to comment on the negotiations.
Gosnell’s proposed salary is comparable to what other top government officials are paid in Horry County, according to information provided by local governments. Although there are differences in insurance and retirement packages, myhorrynews.com specifically reviewed salaries and transportation compensation.
For example, Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen’s salary is just under $194,000 and he receives a car allowance of $10,200 per year. In Conway, City Administrator Adam Emrick is paid a salary of nearly $131,000 and he drives a city-owned SUV. North Myrtle Beach City Manager Mike Mahaney’s salary is just below $211,000 and he receives a car allowance of $9,540 per year.
Statewide, a 2017 survey of counties with populations over 200,000 found that salary scales for county administrators, managers and supervisors — the three types of county executives in South Carolina — ranged from $102,340 to $275,127. The highest administrator salary level was in Greenville County, according to the S.C. Association of Counties survey.