By Ruben Lowman
Longtime councilmember and local business owner Harold Worley will be running for re-election to the District 1 seat on Horry County Council this upcoming election.
Worley, who was born in Brooksville, will face a challenge from Jenna Dukes in the upcoming June 14 primary before the general election on Nov. 4 for the seat that includes North Myrtle Beach, Little River and Atlantic Beach.
Representing the local area as an elected official for over three decades, Worley first began serving in public office on the NMB City Council in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Since then, the local boy has served as a state representative, on the county council and on countless boards of organizations that do charitable work in the community.
The NMB Chamber of Commerce, now named Destination NMB, was founded by Worley in July of 1999, and he served as its first chairman of the board of directors. While Worley was serving in Columbia as a member of the House of Representatives, he was instrumental in acquiring funding for beach renourishment for our local area, and the tourism industry along the Grand Strand has thrived as a result.
The main focus over Worley’s lengthy career has always been on serving the residents of Horry County and ensuring they have someone on council who will fight for their rights and defend them on the vital issues that are effecting their lives, namely growth, quality of life and financial soundness right now. Among those issues is impact fees, one of the key tenets of the measures the county has been forced to take in order to see that growth is controlled and managed, and developers are made to pay a reasonable fee for the services they use.
Impact fees are essentially a one-time charge on new construction that developers must pay in order to proceed with the project. Worley has been instrumental in seeing that local infrastructure, namely roads, have secured funding and impact fees will be a huge contributor to further improvements.
“We’re trying to get an impact fee passed so that we can build some local roads. Stormwater, recreation, public safety, all those things have to go together,” Worley explained. “I think if we can get an impact fee of around $7,000-$7,500 we can take that money and we can use it to do capital improvement projects.”
The revenues from impact fees cannot be spent on employee salaries, it can only be spent on capital improvements, such as fire stations and fire trucks, vital resources the county is in need of right now as the area has seen increased growth.
“I think it will keep our area attractive to development by keeping the tax millage lower,” Worley said. “But yet we still have to get the services out there, like police and first responders.”
With county council’s budget retreat coming up this Thursday in Conway, major projects in the works have been discussed in the lead up. One of those is the proposed plans for the Little River waterfront district and boardwalk.
Worley said the money for the planned Little River waterfront project was already budgeted by county council, but the project is waiting on plans to be drawn up and approved before proceeding. One of the hangups right now is securing easements for residents to be able to use the proposed boardwalk and surrounding area.
“I can’t build a public facility unless I get an easement so that you and your wife and everybody else out there can walk on it,” Worley said.
His vision is to have the waterfront be a public park, a place where families can go and have a fun time partaking in local pastimes like crabbing and walking along the river. First, they need to secure the easements and add more parking, but the money is set aside for the project to begin.
“Well get there,” Worley said.
As the county has seen increased demand on its emergency personnel, Worley wants the council to expand their funding for police, fire and EMS.
“We gotta have more employees, we need more people,” he said. “We need more ambulances, we need more crews.”
In addition, Worley would like to see better land planning and zoning from county officials, and hopes to stop the developers from encroaching on the area’s beaches. He also has made stormwater drainage issues, improving public transportation and better recreation for all ages key platforms.