Myrtle Beach City Council and outgoing Mayor John Rhodes agreed to give City Manager John Pedersen a 3% merit raise and $850 monthly car allowance at yesterday’s city council meeting. The raise makes Pedersen among the highest paid professionals in the city receiving over $200,000 annually in earnings and benefits.
This was the last city council meeting in which the Mayor, Wayne Gray, and Randal Wallace could vote, as new members take the oath of office at the next scheduled meeting on January 9th. Locals, who attended the meeting, found the raise curious at best.
Pedersen is considered a controversial leader by many locals because of his involvement, using a straw buyer, in a downtown city purchase of Superblock properties for a supposed, but now tabled, new library project. Properties were purchased in the Superblock at prices 3 times above market value. After a Spring and Summer of ongoing shootings, downtown merchants signed a vote of no confidence in the City Manager just this past Summer 2017, with business leaders asking him to resign last March.
Summer 2017 was considered a disappointing year for Ocean Boulevard merchants who witnessed up to 30% decreases in sales during the month of July. After a Father’s Day shooting, City Manager John Pedersen put barricades along Ocean Boulevard. The barricades remained in place for the duration of July. Merchants asked the city to remove the barricades, stating they were hurting downtown sales.
“I think the city was dragging their feet for a long time, and now they overreacted,” hotel owner David C. Perkins told the Myrtle Beach Sun News last July when the barricades were first put in place. “They see that [Barricades] and they want their money back at the front desk, and they tell their friend, who is coming next week.”
Mr. Pedersen promised permanent barricades in 2018.
Residents and merchants equally told MyrtleBeachSC.com yesterday they voted for change. Firing Mr. Pedersen was a positive, expected change they believed would come with new leadership.
Terms of Mr. Pedersen’s employment contract state that in the event the Manager is terminated by the City Council while the manager is willing and able to perform the duties of City Manager, then the City agrees to pay the Manager a payment of equal to six (6) months’ salary and deferred compensation, plus premiums for health and disability insurance for six (6) months.