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Horry County leaders worry MBPD raises could cause exodus from police department

(WPDE)

A plan to attract new officers to the City of Myrtle Beach has some Horry County leaders worried about keeping their own force in tact.

Myrtle Beach city leaders publicized a plan Tuesday afternoon that would lead to pay raises for its police officers.

According to that plan, uncertified officers would make $40,000 as a starting salary, while certified officers would make at least $44,000.

The plan is expected to come with tax increases.

RELATED: Myrtle Beach looks at increasing police pay to retain, hire more officers

If the plan passes, the gap between MBPD and HCPD's starting salaries would rise to around $5,000 for uncertified officers and $7,000 for certified officers, according to salary information provided by Horry County Police spokeswoman Krystal Dotson.

When asked, county councilmen said they'd look into raising salaries as well.

"You know, I'm always in favor of keeping good people, and that's the only way we can keep them," Johnny Vaught told ABC15.

Vaught and councilman Dennis DiSabato said the main issue is where the extra money comes from. Neither was able to give specifics, only promising they'll research possible ways to fund raises by the time council sets the next budget.

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"I'm in favor of increasing funding to the police department across the board, including increasing salaries," DiSabato said. "I want to see us try and get some more boots on the ground as well and some brick and mortar projects also."

Vaught pointed to an incentive that could be implemented sooner: money that used to go to Coast RTA has become available, which could be used to give raises to officers who continue their education.

"Once they further their education, we'll increase their pay as a result of that," Vaught explained. "We don't know how far the money will go because we don't know what the participation will be at, but that's what we are going to do with it."

Horry County Police Chief Joseph Hill told ABC15 that he wasn't planning to make any decisions until Myrtle Beach approves their plan.

But, he said he was worried about his officers leaving because of their pay, which would hurt his efforts to hire 40 extra officers in the next five years.

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