Committee Disappoints on HCSWA Contract

By Paul Gable

The Horry County Administration Committee’s requests Thursday regarding a potential contract between the HCSWA and Charleston County were disappointing.

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority has been in negotiations with Charleston County to take its recyclables while a new material recycling facility is constructed in Charleston County.

One reason Charleston County approached Horry County is they stepped up to help the HCSWA when the old HCSWA MRF on Hwy 701 North burned some years ago.

But, the Administration Committee seemed to forget that when discussing potential contract terms with HCSWA officials at its meeting Thursday.

Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus was reasonable in his initial comments, “I don’t want residuals to go in our landfill. I don’t have any problem doing it (taking Charleston County recyclables.) We need to be very careful in the final document that we don’t lose any money and it is not at the detriment of our landfill or at the detriment of the flow control ordinance.”

However, after an executive session regarding contract terms, Lazarus made a motion that “this body tell the HCSWA to move forward under the conditions that provisions stricken (from the original contract proposal) by Charleston County be put back in plus the contract have a 30 day opt out clause.”

Sounds like ‘my way or the highway.’ I understand Charleston County said they need an answer by Saturday, which is impossible. Maybe I am being too harsh on Lazarus, but this has to be a negotiation.

Lazarus also said the contract would require a three reading budget amendment ordinance, which requires an absolute super majority (nine yes votes) from Horry County Council.

However, Lazarus said there were ways for the deal to move forward while the budget amendment ordinance was going through three readings.

The difficulty with the Lazarus motion is it requires all clauses that Charleston County requested be removed during negotiations be put back into the contract. Additionally, the negotiations began with a 90 day termination clause that had been worked down to 60 days. Now it seems a 30 day termination clause will only be acceptable.

Negotiations are just that, a process where both sides give some and take some to reach an agreeable compromise contract that both sides can accept without feeling taken advantage of.

It is of paramount importance that a final contract be reached without any risk or cost to Horry County taxpayers. After all, they should not be asked to subsidize Charleston County waste operations.

This is not the case. We reported last week that the HCSWA staff had worked out terms that appeared to solve that problem from the beginning. The HCSWA board spent over an hour discussing the proposed contract and, again, gaining assurance this would not cost Horry County taxpayers or the HCSWA any money.

Since that time, it is our understanding that both the HCSWA and Charleston County proposed revisions in parts of the contract, but none onerous.

The HCSWA reportedly strengthened certain provisions to guarantee against loss. Charleston County reportedly requested certain provisions to allow for potential changes in market conditions. Both counties agreed on an absolute termination clause with 60 day notice to the other party.

The HCSWA board will hold a special meeting Friday July 31, 2015 to consider the contract provisions as they now stand, the requests of the Horry County Administration Committee and how to move forward.

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