Horry County Council plans to thank county employees for their work with a nearly $60,000 tailgating bash that includes tickets to a Coastal Carolina University football game and gifts of stainless steel tumblers.
County officials discussed the proposed employee appreciation day at the council’s administration committee meeting this week. Officials said the county held a worker appreciation event years ago but did away with the expense during the tight budgets of the last recession. If county leaders approve the publicly funded celebration, it would be held on Nov. 2, the day of Coastal’s homecoming game against Troy.
“This is a great idea,” councilman Orton Bellamy said. “Great for morale.”
To pay for the party, county officials plan to use some of the money they budgeted for three top administrative positions that have become vacant in recent months. The county has openings for a finance director, an assistant administrator over infrastructure and regulation, and an emergency management director. By not filling those positions for five weeks, the county saved enough to cover the cost of the event, said Barry Spivey, the interim assistant administrator over the county’s administration division.
To accommodate the county’s more than 2,200 employees, Coastal has proposed allowing the group to hold its tailgate at the baseball stadium. This would begin three hours before the football game at Brooks Stadium next door.
Each county worker and a guest would receive a voucher for a game ticket, a hot dog, chips and a drink. The baseball stadium’s concessions stand would also be open and there would be cornhole and other games available for entertainment.
When the football game begins, county spokeswoman Kelly Moore said most county workers would have seats in the same area.
“This is a way that we can all be together there,” she said.
Of course, police officers, firefighters and first responders who are working will not be able to attend, so Moore said Coastal has agreed to provide vouchers for those employees to attend a game on another date.
The cost of the 3,000 tickets and food is $36,000, according to the county’s records. The county is considering spending more than $17,000 on the tumblers, which would feature the logos of both Coastal and the county.
The cost amounts to fewer than $30 per employee.
The administration committee voted in favor of funding the event. The proposal will now to go the full council for final approval.
Horry County is not the only local government to host an employee appreciation event or even the first to hold one at a sports stadium.
For years, the city of Myrtle Beach held two staff appreciation celebrations at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans ballpark: one at the beginning of the summer tourist season and another at the end. The cost was about $10,000, said city spokesman Mark Kruea. Now the city holds an employee appreciation event in the offseason.
“Saying thanks to the staff goes a long way,” Kruea said, adding that sometimes these events do more to bolster morale than a bonus. “Showing appreciation for a job well done is a motivating factor.”
County council members have stressed the importance of boosting employee morale in different ways. In June, they approved a 4.4 percent raise for all county workers. They also increased the pay of police, firefighters and other uniformed personnel by $500 per year of continuous service up to $5,000.
Officials used property tax increases to pay for the public safety enhancements.