By Paul Gable
The most interesting aspect of Tuesday night’s regular meeting of Horry County Council is what didn’t happen.
After several days of media publicity touting his resolution declaring Horry County’s support of S.C. Senate Bill 259 establishing a “Resilience Revolving Fund to Assist in Future Flood Prevention”, Horry County Council member Cam Crawford failed to get council members to vote for the resolution.
Instead, Crawford made a motion to send the resolution to the county Administration Committee for more study.
The timing of the proposed resolution is suspicious. The bill has been stuck in committee in the S.C. House since March 27, 2019, nearly 10 months. If it is such a great bill that will really benefit flood victims, why wait until reelection time approaches and a challenger to his seat has come forward for Crawford to author a resolution supporting the bill?
The bill was pre-filed in the S.C. Senate in December 2018 and passed the Senate roll call vote March 19, 2019. Nothing about it has changed since its pre-filing.
The resolution appears to be nothing more than a campaign ploy by Crawford to make voters think he is doing something on their behalf.
According to several citizens who have been actively working to help flood victims since the aftermath of Hurricane Florence destroyed approximately 2,000 homes in Horry County, there are some things about S259 that could help some of those most affected by the flooding.
The idea behind the bill is to provide a local match for FEMA funds that would be used to buyout properties that were destroyed by flooding from the hurricane. However, as of this date there is no permanent revenue source identified.
The state proposes to establish its revolving fund with some seed money to get it started. Loans would be made from state government to local governments to help with buyout of the properties.
At the local level, it really does not provide a solution other than having the state make loans to local governments, which would presumably help complete some property buyouts, but those local governments would have to pay back the loaned money to the state. Where will the money come from to pay back those loans?
With $2 billion excess revenue from last fiscal year, why doesn’t the state put money in the fund from the budget excess and use that money to provide local match for FEMA buyouts?
Additionally, very little thought has been given by either state or local governments of how to help all citizens by coming up with a plan to mitigate flooding before it destroys more homes.
It is proper for county council to give further study to what S259 really means for county government and citizens before passing a resolution to support it as well as doing further study as to how the county’s stormwater management plans can be made to really work.