Horry County Fire Rescue in need of additional funds

Horry County Fire Rescue says they are in desperate need of additional firefighters and equipment.

To pay for that, Horry County Council may have to consider raising property taxes.

Tuesday night, Horry County Fire Rescue Chief Fred Crosby outlined what the fire department needs to continue operating.

The reality is without an increase in the fire fund, which pays for the majority of the fire personnel, the department could lose 25 firefighters and four fire stations.

The department currently has 142 full time employees that are paid with the fire fund.

18 employees were funded by a $1,000,000 grant that expires in 2014.

Chief Crosby is also asking for money to budget for new fire engines.

Currently, 32% of Horry County's fleet is over 23-years-old.

For these needs to be met, property taxes may be increased by 3.5% at minimum.

If not, 64,000 homeowners in Horry County could see an increase in their property taxes because of lack of fire service near their home.

In 2002, Horry County Council voted to raise taxes to pay for the fund over three years.

After the first year, they stopped that increase.

Council has a second reading on the proposed fire fund budget in the first week of June.