City of Myrtle Beach could pay $1M increase for state pension shortfall

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW)- The state’s pension fund is running low and now local governments, including the City of Myrtle Beach, may have to help make up the difference.

State lawmakers are discussing bills that could increase how much local cities and towns and their employees contribute to state-managed pension funds. If the bills pass, the City of Myrtle Beach will have to find a way to raise about $1 million and have to contribute more money each year.

“It’s going to be an expensive fix any way you look at it. The state for years has overestimated the money that it would earn and really has paid fees that have been too high,” said city spokesperson Mark Kruea. “We’ve had to find a million dollars that could have been spent on other things to cover this projected increase. This is not a very palatable way to do it but something has to happen,” said Kruea.

Experts say the Horry County School system, which employs about five times as many people as the City of Myrtle Beach, would have to raise almost $5 million more to make up for the shortfall.

Chief Finance Officer John Gardner says the school system hasn’t yet discussed how it would raise that money, but Kruea says the city’s plan relies on cutting back heavily on spending, including money budgeted for police and fire department programs.

“We’re pinching pennies to find the extra money to cover this projected 2 percent increase. There certainly were things that we would like to do new, that may not be included in that budget,” Kruea said.

Kruea says the city is not considering any sort of tax increase, but across the board pay raises for city employees are unlikely.

Myrtle Beach city officials will discuss the issue at their budget retreat next week.