Myrtle Beach leaders say no new taxes, but suggest increase in water costs

Over the past year, the city spent money on crime reduction by adding more surveillance cameras, license plate readers, and more police officers.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The City of Myrtle Beach is spending two days in a retreat to layout the budget plans for the next fiscal year.

“We’re looking to have a balanced budget without raising taxes,” says Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.

The budget for the new fiscal year does not include a tax increase for Myrtle Beach residents, and Mayor Rhodes said this is because the city is fortunate to have a great financial team in place.

Over the past year, the city spent money on crime reduction by adding more surveillance cameras. Myrtle Beach has nearly 800 surveillance cameras at major intersections and locations around the city, including parks and public facilities. The city also added license plate readers for police officers and increased the amount of patrol officers. Another branch of keeping neighborhoods safe is the neighborhood watch programs.

The mayor goes on to say keeping communities safe is a top priority, but making sure people who live in Myrtle Beach neighborhoods are happy about where they live is also important. Sidewalks have been added in certain neighborhoods and the landscaping has been enhanced in several areas for the overall appeal for those who live in Myrtle Beach and those visiting the area.

In addition, Mayor Rhodes says the Myrtle Beach community benefits from the money the city puts into advertising the area as a sports tourism destination.

“We have been able to create more opportunity for our children and our young kids to be able to get off the street and get involved in some type of sports activity that will give them an opportunity to grow in life and have more satisfaction,” predicts Mayor Rhodes.

Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Mark Kruea says the city’s ability to add greater safety measures – the surveillance cameras, patrol officers, and license plate readers – does not come as a hike in taxes for residents. In fact, Kruea says not only will the city not eliminate services to stay within budget, but the plan is to offer more services from the city, although he couldn’t go into specifics.

“It does not call for a tax increase. The taxes would remain the same as they are right now. It does not have any service cuts,” confirms Kruea. “In fact, there are some service enhancements included in the budget, so I think the public will be very happy with the budget that’s being presented to city council for consideration.”

While a tax increase isn’t expected, Myrtle Beach leaders say a hike in water and sewer rates is likely. City manager John Pederson recommends a 2.5 – 2.8% increase in the rates, which is about $1.23 per month for the average city resident.

The Myrtle Beach City Council budget retreat is Tuesday and Wednesday at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel. The agenda for the two-day session can be found on the city’s website.