By Paul Gable
Horry County Council voted 11-0 to pass a reconsidered second reading of a budget amendment regarding the HCSWA recycling contract with Charleston County.
Second reading failed by a 7-4 vote at council’s September 1, 2015 regular meeting. The vote was on a budget amendment which requires a super majority of nine “Yes” votes to pass.
The budget amendment requires passage of one more reading to become law. If this occurs, the contract bringing Charleston County recyclables into Horry County for processing at the HCSWA material recycling facility will officially be approved.
The interesting part of the reconsidered vote is the recycling contract and other HCSWA issues will be considered at the September 24, 2015 meeting of the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee.
This stipulation was added as an amendment to the budget amendment ordinance along with a requirement that the HCSWA will be subject to monthly scrutiny by the I&R Committee.
These new requirements were enough to get the deal to take recyclables from Charleston County back on track, at least for the time being.
Concerns from the council members who originally voted against second reading of the budget amendment arise from issues at the HCSWA, not the Charleston County contract itself, according to sources familiar with the issues.
In other business, council voted 7-4 to extend the funding contract with MBREDC from its current two year guarantee to a three year guarantee of funding from the county.
With all due respect to those council members who voted for the extension, this is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Council member Jody Prince called it correctly when he said, “I have lost faith in this concept. I can’t see where our return on this investment has paid off.”
Quite simply, you can’t see it because it hasn’t paid off.
Council chairman Mark Lazarus tried to say R.J. Corman bought the railroad because of the efforts of the MBREDC. He also pointed to MetGlass as a success.
Corman ultimately closed the deal on the railroad after direct negotiations with former owner Ken Pippin. MBREDC was marginally part of the original three county, two state committee originally put together to try and force Pippin to sell the railroad.
MetGlass is from several iterations ago of the MBREDC, well before this funding concept was ever put into place. The law of averages says even poor organizations will have the occasional success.
As former council member Marion Foxworth used to say, “Even a broke clock is right twice a day.”
What Lazarus forgot to mention was AvCraft, Project Blue, Ithaca Gun Company and all the other “great” MBREDC projects that were never completed or failed.
Lazarus said a three year guarantee of funding was needed to get a dynamic leader in place at MBREDC. He said Coast RTA was successful in getting a dynamic leader with newly hired Brian Piascik and the same thing was needed at MBREDC.
What Lazarus didn’t explain was how Coast RTA, which gets funded year to year by county council and must justify receiving its county funding quarter by quarter, was able to get Piascik without a three year guarantee of county funding.
For too many years, the various iterations of MBREDC have always talked about big projects just around the corner guaranteeing high paying jobs and lots of prospects in the “pipeline” with little to no results coming out of the end of that pipeline.
Wasn’t it just a few years ago that then MBREDC board chairman Doug Wendel called newly hired Brad Lofton a dynamic leader and one of the best employees he ever hired?
We all know only too well how that played out and why Lofton decided to leave the MBREDC and get out of the county.
The truth is that MBREDC funding was extended for no other reason than the associations of the Dunes Club card room.
That’s a poor reason for committing another $700,000 of county taxpayer dollars for another year of administrative expenses at MBREDC especially just a couple of months after strapping the taxpayers with the largest tax increase in county history.
The use of county tax dollars to fund an agency whose main goal is to use a combination of tax reductions, straight cash giveaways, reduced or free rents or free buildings in order to bribe a private corporation to locate here is unjustifiable.
For an area claiming to be so conservative, so against using tax dollars for individual welfare (let the churches handle it) to engage those same tax dollars in such blatant corporate welfare is unforgivable.