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County employees getting raises

  • Friday, December 13, 2013

  • Updated Wednesday, December 18, 2013 9:57 am

Georgetown County Council approved pay increases for the majority of county workers at its last meeting of the year on Tuesday night.

The raises will be implemented over a three-and-a-half year period. The first 40 percent of the increase will go into effect Jan. 1.

The remaining 60 percent of the increase will happen in 20 percent increments on July 1, 2015, July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017,

“This problem was not created overnight and, unfortunately, it can’t be corrected overnight,” County Administrator Sel Hemingway said. “But we do recognize the need to rectify this issue and we’re taking steps to do so beginning almost immediately.”

The county started looking at salaries after an “abnormally high” turnover rate in 2012, Hemingway told Council.

A committee was formed with Hemingway, director of Human Resources Greg Troutman, Finance director Scott Proctor and director of Public Services Ray Funnye, to compare salaries of county employees with nearby counties and municipalities.

The committee concentrated on salaries for law enforcement, fire/EMS and general services/administrative.

The review showed that starting salaries for emergency services employees were on average 13.58 percent below those offered by competing jurisdictions. Starting salaries for law enforcement and general services were 10.43 percent below average.

The committee concluded that the county would have to spend $2.94 million to immediately increase salaries to match what the competing jurisdictions offered.

That would require a millage increase higher than what state law allows, Hemingway said, so the increase will be phased in, as will millage increases.

Annual millage increases are expected to be (figures based on homes valued at $100,000): $6.30 in the unincorporated western part of the county; $4 in the majority of the county; and $5.10 in the Midway Fire District.

“However, lower millage increases could be realized if the economy grows at a greater rate than currently forecast,” Hemingway said.

County Council will have to amend the budget for Fiscal Budget 2014 to reflect the raises.

In other business

Council voted to extend a “fee in lieu of taxes” agreement with The SEFA Group. The original agreement, signed in 2002, was for 20 years. The extension adds another 20 years.

“We appreciate you folks being involved in our community,” Councilman Bob Anderson said. “We’re proud to have you here.”

SEFA will also be getting $40 million in revenue bonds from the S.C. Jobs-Economic Development Authority. Council passed a resolution supporting the issuance of the bonds.

SEFA plans to use the money to build a facility in Georgetown to recycle up to 400,000 tons of high-carbon fly ash a year.

SEFA has had a recycling facility in Georgetown since 2002. Last April, the company laid off seven workers at that plant and cut back from operating 24 hours a day to only daytime.

The county is considering allowing non-residents with ties to Waccamaw Neck to serve on the Advisory Tax Committee.

An ordinance that was given first reading this week would allow non-residents to serve who work full-time or own a business on Waccamaw Neck that provides services to visitors.

Under the terms of the ordinance, a person meeting the criteria would be “deemed a resident of Georgetown County.”

Council approved spending an additional $138,414 for the construction of the new Murrells Inlet Community Center.

The original design called for 7,000-square-foot facility, but the building ended up being 7,707 square feet. The extra funds will also be used to pay for additional site work and landscaping.

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