Vote YES on July 24th to keep top-notch fire protection/EMS and low insurance rates

Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire and Rescue needs your help!

The department has been pushed to its financial limit with an overwhelming number of EMS and fire calls.

Last year there were an astounding 3,957 EMS and 1,847 fire calls.

And with an aging district population – over 40 percent are over 62 years old – EMS calls will continue to grow exponentially.

The tremendous growth in calls, combined with the need to replace aging fire trucks and equipment and ever escalating health insurance and retirement costs has sky-rocked costs for the department well beyond estimates.

MIGC Fire and Rescue does a great job protecting lives and property and has one of the highest fire protection ratings (ISO 2) in the state and nation, but the fact is the department cannot maintain this high level of fire protection and deliver quality EMS without additional funding.

As a result, a referendum will be held on Tuesday, July 24th to ask for voter approval of a six-mill tax increase, phased in over four years.

This represents an average tax increase of just $15 per year on an owner-occupied $250,000 home, about the median value in Murrells Inlet.

We ask for your YES vote on July 24th.

Please help MIGC Fire and Rescue continue to provide top-notch fire and EMS and keep our fire insurance rates low.

Thank you in advance!

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Tom Swatzel - Chairman
Friends of Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire and Rescue

  • Featured news

    WPDE: Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District asking public to vote "yes" to more funding

    Murrells Inlet, S.C. -- Keeping you safe comes at price.

    That's the message from the Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District.

    WPDE_screenshot_II.pngClick on the image for the video.

    They say they need more money to keep up with growth in the area, in fact, they're saying they need 6 more mills, raising the cap from 14 mills to 20 mills.

    Voters get to decide if they'll get it in a referendum on July 24.

    Officials with the Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District say from 2014 to 2017 they saw a 32 percent increase in calls. They say they need more money to make sure they're able to provide their community with the services they deserve.

    "Public safety services are impossible to provide without funding," said George Oldroyd, secretary of Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District board of directors.

    The fire district's board of directors believes over the next four years it will cost more money to help you.

    "Our expenses are rising faster than our income," said Oldroyd is the secretary of that board. The last time they needed a vote for a funding increase was in 2015, and now they believe it's that time again.

    "Why so soon? That's because in the last few years a 32 percent increase in calls. The growth has been explosive," Oldroyd said.

    According to a U.S. Census report, the population of people over the age of 62 has grown too. Oldroyd says many of their calls are from people in that age group.

    The money would pay for maintenance of equipment, necessary upgrades and additional equipment.

    "We need to run a fourth ambulance. We run three now and we need to run a fourth and take the pressure off of those responses so that we are available more thus being able to maintain a 5 minute or better response time," he said.

    Most importantly, the cost of manpower is included: their salaries, benefits, and incentive for people to want to work there.

    "The need is there for us to be able to maintain our high standards.... We don't want to lose them to other agencies or to other fields of employment," said Oldroyd.

    Last year the district responded to more than 6,000 calls which they say is a substantial increase in calls over previous years.

    Those living in the effected area will get to vote on the referendum on July 24.

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  • Featured news

    WBTW: Voters to decide on tax increase for Murrells Inlet- Garden City fire district

    WBTW_screenshot.pngClick on the image for the video.

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    Residents to vote on tax hike for Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District

    By Viraj Naik
    Myrtle Beach Herald

    Voters will decide this summer whether to shell out more property tax money for the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District.

    The Georgetown County Elections Board last week approved the referendum, which will take place on July 24, said Georgetown County elections and voter registration office director Donna Mahn.

    The vote will take place at eight precincts in Horry County and four in Georgetown County, officials said.

    Formed in 1966, the fire district is a special tax district that provides service to parts of the south end of Horry County and portions of northern Georgetown County.

    The proposed increase would up the fire district’s millage cap from 14 mills to 20 mills over four years, said George Oldroyd, a member of the district’s board of directors.

    The district will pick up the costs for the special election, Oldroyd said.

    The cap would rise by four mills in 2019 if voters decide on the increase, according to the resolution from the board proposing it. In 2021, the cap would increase by one mill and the cap would up another mill in 2022.

    If the referendum were to pass, Oldyroyd said the extra funds would go toward increased manpower as well as the district’s apparatus and equipment.

    The resolution cites “tremendous growth” in the Murrells Inlet-Garden City area, including “additional nursing homes, assisted living facilities, a hospital and other medical related facilities which all increase the need for additional manpower and time requirements for response.”

    According to information provided by the agency's board based on census tract data, members estimate the district's population has grown from roughly 15,000 to approximately 29,000 from 2000 to 2015. Residents 62 years old and over are estimated to have grown from about 5,000 to around 12,000 over the same 15-year stretch, based on the board's findings.

    Board members also highlight an aging population in the district and say it needs additional paramedics in order to provide adequate services to residents and visitors.

    The district is, as of now, short two firefighter/paramedics and one firefighter/EMT, according to Oldroyd, and has struggled to fill the vacancies of those positions, currently filling the need through overtime.

    “We must be competitive with salary and benefits compared to surrounding departments,” the resolution reads. "This will allow Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District to hire and retain the best staffing possible."

    Leaders see the need for an additional ambulance “in the very near future” and say there has been a marked increase in medical-related calls, the resolution stated.

    “The number of calls is a big factor,” Oldroyd said. “That’s one of the things that helps identify the need.”

    The district had 3,957 calls come in 2017, board members said, with 1,847 of those being fire calls.

    The resolution says the remaining 2,110 medical calls is a “substantial increase” compared to previous years’ figures.

    “We expect that trend to continue,” Oldroyd said, adding the district has responded to 32-percent more medical calls over the past two years.

    The resolution mentions the district transported the second most trauma patients to Grand Strand Medical Center last year and that the hospital lies 22 mile outside of the district, which leads to “higher cost and time out of the district for ambulance service.”

    “We have an increasing number of patients who need to go all the way to Grand Strand Medical Center due to it being a Level 1 trauma center,” Oldroyd explained.

    He added that because of the time it takes to get back and forth from the hospital, a burden is placed on the remaining fleet.

    To maintain the agency’s current ISO rating of 2, the resolution contends, the district must "purchase and/or replace “aging fire equipment and apparatus" as well as maintain the district’s four stations.

    The resolution also highlights employees’ health insurance and retirement cost rising annually.

    In 2014, then-S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed legislation which would have raised the district’s millage cap from 10 to 14 mills, myhorrynews.com news partner WMBF News reported. The year following, a referendum was held where voters approved the millage cap increase.

    In recent years, the district has had to deal with the rising costs of things like fuel as well as in the buying and maintaining of its apparatus, Oldroyd said.

    He stressed, though, the district can still impose impact fees to incoming developers which can be used for the purchase of apparatus and the buildings that house them.

    Right now, the district has 60 full-time employees, Oldroyd said, and also enlists the help of volunteer firefighters. Its ambulances are each staffed with a firefighter/paramedic and a firefighter/EMT.

    On a daily basis, the district has three fire engines, a ladder truck and three ambulances it can deploy, said Chief Norman Knight.

    "All of those units are staffed with personnel," he said, adding the district also has smaller vehicles and reserve units that can be used.

    The district covers approximately 25 square miles, Knight said, with 60 percent of its area of coverage being in Horry County. Two of the district's stations are in Horry County with the other two in Georgetown County.

    The agency receives mutual aid in the northern part of the district from Horry County Fire Rescue and in its southern region from Midway Fire Rescue.

    Click here for the article.

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  • Featured news

    Murrells Inlet-Garden City fire district seeks increase in property taxes

    By Anita Crone
    South Strand News

    The Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District plans to ask voters to approve three millage increases over four years during an election tentatively scheduled for July 24.

    The tax increase would raise the district’s millage rate to 20 mills and bring in approximately $1.5 million more per year by 2022, allowing the organization to hire additional firefighters/paramedics and firefighter/EMTs as well as buy and equip an ambulance.

    “We’ve seen a significant increase in medical runs over the past few years, and we want to address that,” said George Oldroyd Jr., a member of the fire district’s board of directors.

    Not only have medical service requests grown in the past six years, but so have transports to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center near North 82nd Street, the region’s Level 1 trauma center. The hospital is about 22 miles outside the district’s boundaries, which places time constraints on current staffing and equipment, Oldroyd said.

    In 2014, fire district medical personnel saw 3,180 patients and transported 346 of them to Grand Strand. In 2017, the patient numbers jumped to 4,174 with 432 of them taken to Grand Strand, according to fire district statistics.

    The resolution to seek the millage increase was approved by the board during an April 10 meeting. The resolution noted that the district has seen tremendous growth within its service area and that a number of nursing homes and assisted living areas have moved into the district, increasing the demands for service.

    In addition, the resolution says the population of the district is aging, which potentially means additional service calls.

    “We’re moving forward with the understanding that a millage increase is our best option to continue to provide the level of service our residents have come to expect,” Oldroyd said.

    The district last asked for a millage hike in 2015, which allowed district officials to construct and staff Fire Station 4 on McDowell Shortcut Road. Originally the board requested that the General Assembly authorize doubling the district’s millage rate to 20 mills, but at that time, lawmakers approved only a four-mill increase.

    Horry County has already approved the date for the vote and the Georgetown County Board of Elections is expected to vote on the election during its May 11 meeting.

    In its resolution asking for the millage increase election, the board noted that it is also facing increased retirement and health care costs for its firefighters as well as increasing competition from surrounding fire departments to hire and retain its firefighters.

    The ballot issue would ask voters to approve a four-mill increase in fiscal 2019, and one-mill hikes in fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2022. A mill is equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed valuation.

    Click here for the article.

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