Myrtle Beach Mayor responds to Bike Fest backlash - WNCN: News, Weather

Myrtle Beach Mayor responds to Bike Fest backlash

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) - Myrtle Beach Mayor, John Rhodes, spoke to News 13 about the city’s plans to move forward after listening to public complaints for two hours at Tuesday’s Council Meeting.

Dozens of resident took the podium at the council meeting and expressed their frustrations and fears after the last several days of Bike Fest.

Residents were not the only ones who had issues with the event.

"This past weekend was the worst I’ve seen in Myrtle Beach and I’ve been here for 51 years,” said Mayor John Rhodes.

Rhodes says the amount of violence and gun activity is what surprised him the most.

Horry County Chairman, Mark Lazarus, also spoke during Tuesday’s meeting.

He says over the five day stretch of Bike Fest, there was more than 1200 EMS calls.

Lazarus says first responders were shot at when they arrived at some scenes.

Rhodes says the city is dealing with the issues as best they can, however even with the 400 officers working the city, he says a larger police presence is needed.

“We don't have enough manpower. You have 60 blocks to cover on the ocean front not counting Highway 17 Business; we have to have more than that,” he said.

Many residents demanded immediate action from city council, but Rhodes says that will not be the case.

He says this will be an ongoing process; as the city works with different agencies and groups to help make sure crime and other issues that happened last weekend will not happen again.

Rhodes would not go into specifics of all the options the council is considering.

He did say the city will move forward with upping the police force by 30 new members.

This is something only few weeks ago city officials said was just not in the budget.

"We’ll have to raise millage to do that and the millage we raise will be for safety and nothing else,” said Rhodes. “That's what we're looking at doing. And that was just talked about at the meeting; that was just passed {first reading} that we would do a three mill increase which would be about $18 per $100,000"

Rhodes also said he and Lazarus will meet with Governor Nikki Haley this Friday to discuss extra support available from the state.

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