Lois Eargle announced Monday that she will not seek re-election as Horry County auditor.
Eargle, who is recovering from open heart surgery performed earlier this month, has held the post for the past 28 years.
“I’ve decided I am going to retire because it’s time and I have to think about my health,” Eargle said.
She added with a chuckle, “If I’d run again, my girls would have beaten me.”
Eargle said she will serve out her term of office, which ends June 30, 2021.
The 83-year-old said she is feeling good after surgery to repair a leaking valve in her heart. She plans to be back on the job in a couple of weeks.
Eargle said she is proud of the accomplishments that have been made in the auditor’s office since she was first elected.
“We have made some big strides in organizing the office and ushering in a new era with new computer systems,” she said. “We’ve done away with filing cabinets in the personal property tax division of the office. It took some adjusting, but the results have been wonderful for the taxpayers.”
The auditor’s office handles the county’s tax billing. Under Eargle's supervision, the auditor’s office cracked down on out-of-state people sending their children to Horry County schools without paying property taxes, going so far as to have her agents stake out public school campuses.
She has also strongly advocated for the state’s homestead exemption provision.
“We’ve been able to get more than $4 million a year that comes back to the county through homestead exemptions,” she said. “In 28 years there has not been one error made in that category.”
Eargle has a long history of public service.
She spent two terms in the S.C. House of Representatives and served on President Ronald Reagan’s Committee on Mental Retardation. She was assistant to S.C. Secretary of State Jim Miles.
“I’ve had a wonderful career and God has tremendously blessed me," Eargle said. "I have enjoyed every minute of it."
Eargle said she feels sure someone working in the auditor’s office will run for her seat in the next general election.
Last August, Myrtle Beach accountant Clark Parker announced he would run for auditor.
Filing for the seat opens in March. A primary and general election will be held in 2020, but the next auditor will not be sworn in until after June 30, 2021 (the end of the fiscal year). The term lasts four years.