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He oversaw growth in Fort Mill for the past five years. Now he's headed to the beach.

Fort Mill Town Manager Dennis Pieper (seated, left), is leaving to take a similar job in Surfside Beach.
Fort Mill Town Manager Dennis Pieper (seated, left), is leaving to take a similar job in Surfside Beach. Fort Mill Times file photo

Dennis Pieper is leaving Fort Mill to become the next town administrator for Surfside Beach.

Debra Herrmann, town clerk for Surfside Beach, confirmed the move Thursday morning.

"The contract was just received yesterday," she said.

The signed contract with Surfside Beach shows Pieper will begin July 16. He will earn $104,000 annually in base salary for three years, plus moving expenses.

Pieper has been Fort Mill's town administrator since 2013, after serving as city manager in Tega Cay beginning in 2011.

In Fort Mill, Pieper took over for David Hudspeth, who led the town for 15 years. Pieper oversaw town growth that now has close to 200 employees and a nearly $48 million budget.

Fort Mill Mayor Guynn Savage said Thursday the town received notice from Pieper on Wednesday night.

"He served the town well for the last five years, and we wish him well in his new role," Savage said.

A special called Fort Mill Town Council meeting is scheduled Monday. Savage said that meeting will start the process of determining next steps for hiring a new town manager.

"We will do a formal search," Savage said. "We are likely to ask or consult with the (South Carolina) Municipal Association on that process."

As the top non-elected official in town government, the town manager oversees all aspects of running the municipality.

"We will move forward, but we certainly will miss Dennis and his leadership," she said.

Councilman Larry Huntley also said Pieper served Fort Mill well in his time here.

"I really hate to see him go," Huntley said. "He really did us a great job. We did extremely well from the financial standpoint."

Huntley said he hasn't yet had time to process next steps, or any specifics on what type of candidate the town might seek. When Pieper came to Fort Mill from Tega Cay, there were about 70 applicants.

Pieper's impact will be felt, Huntley said, through remaining employees and land donated to the town through various development projects. While development is a difficult issue to work through, balancing residential growth and public infrastructure needs, Huntley said he needs only speak to counterparts from other areas in the state to realize Fort Mill's "problems" also can be opportunities.

"Whatever problems we have, they would give their right arm to have those problems," Huntley said.

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