MYRTLE BEACH — Firefighters could expect a pay raise starting July 1, as the city of Myrtle Beach hits a key milestone in finalizing its 2021-2022 budget.
The new pay raise could drive Myrtle Beach firefighter salaries above other municipalities in the area. Starting salaries would drop from $35,819 annually to $43,005. The maximum salary would increase to $73,757 per year.
The Horry County entry-level salary for a county firefighter is $36,743.
The exact amount Myrtle Beach firefighters would earn depends on their level of training and experience. The proposed budget indicates that firefighters/paramedics could earn between $43,005 and $66,757, while firefighters/paramedics could earn between $50,005 and $73,757.
This new pay increase could make positions more competitive in an area plagued by long response times and staffing shortages among 911 operators, confirmed Renee Hardwick, department manager of the Horry County 911 Center during from a public safety meeting last month.
The pay increases will cost about $711,004 a year, as all firefighters below the new salary would move to a starting salary of $43,005 on July 1.
As part of the proposed budget, Myrtle Beach will also add 10 new police officers: six patrol and four special ops. In addition to the new police staff, the city hopes to add a director of innovation, a director of diversity and a superintendent of sewers.
Myrtle Beach’s final proposed budget is $292 million, an increase of nearly 35% over last year.
“At (budget) retirement, (budget) was $231 million,” said chief financial officer Michelle Shumpert. “The $60.7 million increase is attributable to a number of things.”
The significant increase in Myrtle Beach’s budget comes from an increase in capital projects, including $28 million for water and sewer improvements, $14.4 million for arts and innovation projects and nearly $6 million to work on boardwalk and Ocean Boulevard projects.
Myrtle Beach also had to adjust its budget as the city expected to receive $12.9 million from the U.S. bailout; instead, they got $7.9 million, including up to $1.8 million earmarked to give a bonus to city employees.
Spokesman Mark Kruea confirmed the city is working to offer full-time city employees a one-time bonus of 3%.
In addition to the bonus, non-police municipal staff will receive a 3% salary increase in January 2022 if the new budget is passed. Myrtle Beach Police Department personnel will receive a 4% raise.
Property taxes, solid waste fees, and Myrtle Beach recreation, sports tourism, and convention center rates would not increase, but stormwater, water, and sewer rates might.
Stormwater charges for single-family homes would increase by about $1.38 per month, or $16.50 per year. And water and sewer rates are expected to increase by about $1.96 per month.
The biggest jumps come with a 67.3% increase in connection fees or impact fees for water and sewer rates, which is roughly the price someone would have to pay when of the first water or sewer installation in an area. The original water charge is $1,134 and could go up to $2,303, an increase of over 100%. Sewer rates would increase from $1,547 to $2,183, an increase of 41.1%.
Although a significant price increase, Myrtle Beach would still be behind some areas like Mount Pleasant, Charleston and North Myrtle Beach whose total connection costs are over $6,000 – with Myrtle Beach’s proposed total cost of around $4. $486, according to the spreadsheet provided by the City of Myrtle Beach.
The city council adopted the budget in first reading on May 25, and it will have to pass its second reading before July 1.