Myrtle Beach

File photo by Janet Morgan

Myrtle Beach City Council unveiled a new budget proposal Tuesday that would boost spending on infrastructure and add several new positions.

The nearly $300 million proposal, a 35% increase over that of the previous fiscal year, doubles the budget for capital projects to almost $59 million. The proposal would not increase property taxes.

According to city documents, population growth has contributed to spending increases.

“Construction Permitting shows no sign of slowing however it is unknown how long the rapid growth will continue,” said a city slide deck. “Expenditures will continue to increase as the demand for service continues to grow.”

Water and sewer projects would receive the highest sum at $28 million, while the arts and innovation district — where the city is focused on attracting business — would get a $14.4 million investment.

Similarly, historic Boardwalk and Ocean Boulevard projects would receive about $6 million, and the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base area where Market Common is located would net $13 million for redevelopment.

Local sports and events would also receive more funding, with $30K for baseball projects, $50 for golf courses and over $700K or the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

Other spending increases would go towards a new chief innovation officer and diversity, equity, and inclusion director — as well as an additional legal assistant and assistant city attorney.

“The DEI person will be part of the city manager’s office,” said Myrtle Beach Spokesman Mark Kruea. “The Chief Innovation Officer will be part of the Information Technology staff, which reports to Financial Management and the Chief Financial Officer.”

Kruea added that the city attorney’s office has been understaffed, and that the new positions should “help with the workload.”

The proposal also asks for ten new police officers, which Myrtle Beach Police Department Cpl. Tom Vest said is part of the city’s “7-year staffing and deployment plan to grow with our community and increase our visitors.”

Six of the new officers would be assigned to standard patrol while the other four would be for special operations.

“The four officers are part of a Highway Safety Grant Program to create a traffic enforcement team to reduce motor vehicle collision,” said Vest. “These officers will be assigned to the Traffic Unit for enforcement. As such, they will have additional traffic enforcement training.”

“Our traffic unit also has highly trained collision investigators who attend the six weeks of traffic collision investigation courses at the academy,” Vest added.

The new fiscal year begins July 1. If the 2021-22 budget is approved, the proposal would balance the budget and not accrue additional debt.

Property taxes would remain 78.9 cents per $100 of appraised land, but stormwater fees would be increased and the combined water and sewer connection fee will rise by 67.3%. 

Specifically, the water impact fee would double to over $2,300 and the sewer impact fee would jump to $2,183.

The proposal forecasts a return to pre-pandemic revenue streams.

“Tourism driven tax and fee revenues are expected to be at or near pre-pandemic levels,” city documents said, predicting the same for business license revenues. 

Revenue from property taxes are expected to remain steady.

You can reach Jonathan Haynes securely over Signal at 910-679-6902, send him encrypted files through Keybase at https://keybase.io/jonathanhaynes, or contact him via email at jonathan.haynes@myhorrynews.com

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