Horry County administrator keeps raise as county works to hire new public safety admin

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – One of the highest paid employees in Horry County will get to keep his raise.

County Administrator Chris Eldridge got a $30,000 pay increase two years ago.

When council approved the raise two years ago, they had also talked about cutting benefits for county employees as they worked to balance the budget.

Then, Eldridge made just over $157,000, but with a raise over four years, he’d make $200,000.

At the time, county council justified the increase by saying they’d cut a job and he’d take the responsibilities.

In a council meeting in 2015 where county leaders discussed Eldridge’s raise, Horry County Council Chair Mark Lazarus said one of the ways the raise was possible was doing away with a public safety director.

“We got to remember also in this budget we are not putting in we do not have a public safety director at $140,000 a year. Mr. Eldridge has taken that position on himself,” said Lazarus in 2015.

Now, two years later, Lazarus says the position was never eliminated, but when we asked if it would impact the raise given to Eldridge to take on the duties, Lazarus said no.

“His job title and duties will not diminish. They grow every day,” said Lazarus.

The new position will pay up to $135,000 to look over police, fire, and emergency management in the county, but County Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier says Eldridge will still keep his current salary.

“Right now, the administrator needs to focus on the county as a whole, bigger projects when it comes to economic development, beach re-nourishment, and really focus on the entire organization,” said Bourcier.

Lazarus says having someone look over public safety alone will help with accountability and transparency in all of the departments.

That’s after we’ve told you multiple lawsuits have been filed and SLED investigations have been opened against the Horry County Police Department.