HCSWA Asking for Fee Increase

By Paul Gable

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority (HCSWA) will ask Horry County Council to approve an increase in tipping fees at the authority’s Hwy 90 landfill site.

The increase will be part of the HCSWA budget submission to council for the coming fiscal year which begins July 1, 2017.

The requested increase results from a Cost of Service and Rate Study recently completed for the HCSWA by independent consultant HDR Engineering.

According to that study, HCSWA has one of the lowest tipping fees in the state for municipal solid waste (MSW). The Hwy 90 landfill currently charges $29 per ton for MSW while the average MSW tipping fee at public and private landfills around the state is $42.71 per ton.

The HCSWA tipping fee has not increased in 18 years.

According to the HDR study, if the tipping fee at the Hwy 90 landfill does not increase, by 2024 the HCSWA will experience a cumulative budget deficit of over $32 million.

This calculation is based on a test year of 2016, with projected revenues and expenses at the HCSWA for years 2017 through 2024 inclusive.

What is interesting to note is the HCSWA had excess revenue of $4.093 million in 2016 with $8.46 million in tipping fee revenue against a revenue requirement of $4.369 million for the authority to break even.

In 2017, the excess revenue required jumps to $11.397 million against tipping fee revenue of $8.624 for a deficit of $2.77 million. The projected deficit increases year by year from that point.

The large jump in excess revenue requirements to balance the budget is basically blamed on two factors – 1) the landfill expansion (piggyback expansion) currently under construction at Hwy 90 and 2) a decrease in Construction and Demolition debris tipping fee revenues since 2015, blamed on C&D being removed from flow control restrictions.

The amount of the requested increase is scheduled to be voted on at the January 2017 board meeting of the HCSWA Board of Directors.

Currently the board is looking at four different rate structure increases for MSW proposed by HDR, three of which have large, front loaded rate hikes. The goal of the increases is to reach a fee of approximately $44 per ton (or higher) at the Hwy 90 landfill by 2024.

Initial recommended increases being studied range from a low of $5.50 per ton to a high of $10 per ton to become effective with the July 1, 2017 fiscal year.

A more complete explanation of the HDR study, with graphs and some of the discussion about the study can be found at the November 2016 HCSWA board workshop on the study. Click on the following link: http://www.solidwasteauthority.org/docs/workshop112116.pdf

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