MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach City Council members and city department heads met Thursday for a budget workshop.
The goal of the meeting was to look at the 2016-2017 budget and proposed initiatives. City leaders say the budget is balanced with an extra $400,000- $500,000 to spare on other projects or initiatives.
The revenue numbers include moderate growth in property taxes, stronger growth in business licenses and other permits.
Council members discussed new water and sewer rates. The rates would add another tier of consumption for households who use above 30,000 gallons monthly. The first three tier rates would see a blended increase of around three percent. The highest tier rate would see a blended increase of 5.6% in the first year.
The Myrtle Beach Police Department presented a report on crime statistics. That report revealed calls for service are down 8.5% this year and arrests are down 4%.
Two officers with MBPD joined the Gang Task-force in September. Officers say the task-force has since arrested 57 people, seized 35 guns and sent 52 cases for federal review.
The department says one issue it is having trouble with is recruitment and that’s compounded by officers retiring this year. MPBD plans to launch new crime initiatives next year to help like additional surveillance cameras, new static license plate readers that would alert officers if a wanted vehicle is entering the city and incentive bonuses for officers who help recruit.
The City of Myrtle Beach has about 20 openings with the department but this number doesn’t account officers currently undergoing training.
Myrtle Beach Police say they will seek additional law enforcement to help with this year’s Memorial Day Weekend Bikefest. The officers will help with the 23-mile traffic loop, crowd control and any issues that may arise.
“Last year through our critiques we identified needs that we need to address this year. One of the things that was brought to our attention was noise complaints and also concerns from the citizens about traffic violations. So those are two areas we’re going to identify additional resources that we can use to address those needs,” Crosby said.
This will include increased police presence along Kings Highway where there were issues for residents last year.
The City of Myrtle Beach will also launch its educational and social media campaign for Bikefest in January. Officers say they want to get the information out earlier to people know what to expect. This campaign will also include a new map that better explains the traffic loop.
The city will also enhance it Neighborhood Watch programs next year to include community fairs, rehabilitating homes for affordable housing and a new MB Cares.311 system. Next year, they will also create a sidewalk along Highway 501 from 3rd Avenue South to Alder.
City leaders also heard plans about how to improve the parking situation on Ocean Boulevard. Some of the ideas brought to the table were to eliminate parking all together but Mayor John Rhodes said he could not support that. Other ideas presented were to begin paid parking in street ends and resident decal parking only in the avenues.
“We just wanted to find out if they’re interested in us pursuing that concept. It turns out that they are. We’re going to develop some details, take a plan and bring it back to them make sure they’re ok with that plan. Take that plan to the neighborhoods impacted and get the input from the neighborhoods,” Pederson added.
Other items discussed were plans for the new sports complex, renovations to Doug Shaw Stadium and extending Fred Nash to Harrelson Boulevard.
Count on News13 to keep you updated on the status of these projects.