Murrells Inlet/Garden City Fire District budgeting for positive change in 2014

  • Friday, November 29, 2013

Murrells Inlet/Garden City Fire District officials are planning for positive changes in the coming year, according to a proposed $3.3 million budget that passed second reading at their regular meeting on Monday.

Already adding one new fire truck to its fleet, they are budgeting for a new ambulance and a new car for Chief Norman Knight in 2014.

The total cost of the ambulance is estimated at $180,000, but the department will pay $50,000 and finance $130,000 over the next three years.

“If we have excess in the regular operating account, we can pay that down and it shouldn’t take three years to pay it off,” said Al Hitchcock, chair of the MI/GC Fire Department Board of Directors.

The board will increase employees’ pay across the board by $1,500 per person per year, Hitchcock said.

“Not a year has gone by that we haven’t increased employee pay,” Hitchcock said during the meeting Monday.

“Last year, money was tight so we could only raise it by $500 per person, but we have more money to work with this year.”

The department will also add two employees at about $32,000 per year.

The total cost for one employee at that pay rate is about $55,000 because the department is responsible for paying insurance, retirement, unemployment, and worker’s compensation insurance for each one.

The new fire truck, financed for $400,000, has been delivered to the headquarters station and is in the process of being detailed.

Knight said at the meeting that a six-person committee will make sure all the required equipment is in place on the truck.

The department’s oldest fire truck has been sold to Marion Rural Fire Department for $5,000, he said.

Hitchcock said it will most likely take about nine months to seek bids for the new ambulance, which will replace a 2000 ambulance.

Hitchcock said last year was also a year for positive change.

The board started planning for Station 4, a new fire station on McDowell Shortcut Road in the Garden City area.

Hitchcock said that those plans hinge on a bill in the state legislature that would raise the millage cap for the MI/GC Fire District and give the department more funding.

The fire department also expanded its fire service further into Horry County and added ambulance service in Horry County.

The MI/GC Fire Department Board of Directors meet regularly on the fourth Monday of the month at 6 p.m.

But the December meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m. because of the Christmas holiday.

The public is invited to attend these meetings.

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