HCA paid its top executives $41 million in compensation in 2016
Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen presented options at a recent city council meeting which would help secure the area around Ocean Boulevard after a string of eight shootings in April. Pedersen informed council these needed police officers and systems would create a tax increase of 1.4 mills in the coming budget, however.
Mayor Rhodes and City Council are concerned those tax increases could prove politically difficult in an election year. The city of Myrtle Beach is currently at the top end of its borrowing capacity with a $200 million total debt. Wage increases for all existing front line police officers have been frozen through January of next year.
“We’re trying our best to make sure we can beef up our force. We need more officers on a full time basis. I personally think that a city of our size and what we’re doing. We need another 50 officers on the force on a full time basis,” said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.
The city plans to hire five new officers each year for the next three years, totaling to 15 new officers by the year 2020. The new hires will cost the city approximately $500,000 – $600,000 each year.
“I am concerned about raising taxes on the entire city to take care of issues in one particular area,” said Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat. “Even though it’s [Ocean Boulevard] an important area.”
The proposal to hire additional police and policing service infrastructure would cost a total of $1.07 million, and would include five new police officer positions in the first year, three new vehicles, two new code enforcement officers, $150,000 to contract with other law enforcement jurisdictions to use their officers and a mobile command center.
Approximately $471,000 of that would have to be covered with an annual property tax increase. Some additional funding could be used from federal drug forfeiture money, capital projects funding and money from the city’s general fund to cover over fifty percent of the total.
“I would love to not have to do the [tax] increase, but if we have to, we need to make sure we have the police presence to have that visibility that we needed down there,” Councilman Randal Wallace said.
Myrtle Beach City Council voted on a first reading at its last city council meeting to give a tax credit of $970,000.00 to Hospital Care of America (HCA). The credit stems from a law that was set up in a separate ordinance “2017-02” to help recruit technology firms.
HCA operates on 82nd Avenue in downtown Myrtle Beach. The hospital is not exactly a new firm to this town and they have plenty of money on hand without the city forgoing $970,000.00. In fact last year HCA paid its top executives $41 million in executive compensation.
According to www1.salary.com/SC/Myrtle-Beach/police-officer-salary.html, the median annual Police Patrol Officer salary in Myrtle Beach, SC is $45,609, as of April 27, 2017, with a range usually between $37,985-$53,820.
The measure to credit HCA the $970,000 passed on its first reading with Mayor Rhodes recusing himself as he sits on one of the hospital boards. A second reading is expected at a soon city council meeting. If that reading passes, HCA will be given the $970,000 city credit.