Former long time Myrtle Beach city employees held a rally at the Ted C. Collins building today to speak out about the city’s plan to terminate their existing health insurance benefits.
Most of these employees have paid into the system for 20 to 35 years.
A large number of these employees were also forced into a buy out plan by the city last fall that amounted to a forced retirement.
MyrtleBeachSC News asked these former employees how many took the job because of the health benefits? Every person in the crowd raised their hands as can be seen in the video above.
How This Plays Out For Current Top Level Employee Hires?
LOW EMPLOYEE MORALE – FEW JOB TAKERS
Sources inside City Hall told MyrtleBeachSC News today that the new Director of HR was supposed to start yesterday (September 13th) and she resigned on her first day. The City of Myrtle Beach has offered the job to 4 people and they’ve all turned the city down.
Dr. Angela Kegler left the position in March 2021 as the morale among existing city employees began going south. The city has yet to fill that position.
Lisa Wallace, the former Assistant City Manager left for Summerville on June 23rd. Sources say the city thought they had an Assistant City Manager on the hook, but he opted to go to Florida instead.
Despite Mayor Bethune’s promise of hiring 7 new police officers each year of her term, the city remains 45 police officers short. This is the same number Mayor Bethune inherited when she took the job almost four years ago.
THE TRUE MONEY PICTURE
Earlier this year, cities and counties throughout South Carolina received nearly $1.6 billion in direct financial aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) commonly called the Covid Cares Act. These federal funds made the City of Myrtle Beach whole from losses taken in 2020.
While all of these funds can not be applied to the general fund account, hospitality revenues were up 32% this Summer so the funds are there if moved and managed appropriately.
MONEY FOR A NEW STADIUM???
Mayor Bethune and City Council are constantly discussing how the town can put more heads in beds.
The city is left with a choice to either improve the existing Pelican’s Baseball facility on Bob Grissom Parkway or build an entirely new stadium.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said that the $15 million plan to bring the stadium that the city co-owns with Horry County up to snuff does nothing for the future.
“Even if we invest $15 million in the current stadium, that only brings it up to the bare minimum for Minor League Baseball standards,” she said. “And that’s not going to get us through the next 20 years. I believe that looking at an investment like this, we have to look longer term and think more generationally.” “It’s still too early to say we want this versus that right now,” she said, “but I think we need to do those (ideas) due diligence and explore those opportunities and keep these conversations going with developers so that we may find that perfect partner that steps up and says, ’This is where we want the stadium and here’s what we want around it and here’s the contribution that we’re willing to make to make that happen.”
According to the University of San Francisco, since 2002 the average cost of a new ballpark at the highest level of the minor leagues (AAA) is $53 million, and at the lowest level of minor league baseball (rookie league) a new stadium costs $8.5 million.
Sources estimate that the type of facility Myrtle Beach would be interested in building is between $30 million and $45 million. Yet there are no funds for honoring former life-long first responder’s health promises.
Former Fireman Marty Ells told Mayor Bethune and City Council today that a promise is a promise.
Meanwhile, sources say the former Pelican’s Asst. General Manager Mike Snow and Mayor Bethune continue working a tight knit, close relationship.