“We suggest it would be,” Spivey said.
“Ask the employee for $30,000,” Loftus replied.
Councilman Al Allen agreed.
“It costs this person who makes $30,000 the same amount at the gas pump as it costs this person who makes over $100,000,” he said. “But I don’t reject them. If we want to maintain the sustainability of our employees, I really think we have to look carefully at how we do it. »
Spivey said the one-time payments were designed to help bear the burden of inflation.
“We would like to do more,” he said. “But that’s what we have the availability to do and the resources that we see in our budget.”
Councilman Orton Bellamy suggested the council consider phased increases that would offer higher percentages to lower-paid workers. Councilman Cam Crawford mentioned he was considering a rank-based pay system for public safety workers.
Spivey pointed out that compensation for county workers — and public safety personnel in particular — has steadily improved over the past decade. For example, the starting salary of police officers increased by 54% while this percentage was nearly 49% for firefighters. But while Horry County’s compensation for these positions is comparable to other large counties in the state, it still lags municipalities closer to home.
The starting salary for police officers in Myrtle Beach is more than $2,500 higher than the county, while North Myrtle Beach’s is nearly $2,000 higher — and that’s not factoring in any raises. Most county employees – nearly 53% – are public safety officers.
“If you look at where we are, we know we’re short,” Spivey said.
If the county doesn’t improve its pay, Allen fears rising housing costs will force workers to live outside of Horry.
“We really need to look carefully at what we can do to help these employees so they can afford to continue living in the county they work for,” he said.