By Paul Gable
During a pre-budget meeting last week, the HCSWA board directed staff to come up with a proposal for raising tipping fees for municipal solid waste.
The increase is necessitated by increasing costs of running the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, especially delays in procuring equipment and making other improvements on the landfill site.
According to information provided at the meeting, the HCSWA preliminary budget for FY 2016-17 shows a deficit of $1,110,686. The HCSWA consultant engineer has also recommended an additional $1.25 per ton be added to reserve funds for future closure and post closure costs. The authority currently puts aside $6.25 per ton toward those future costs.
Additionally, several sources said the vertical expansion to the landfill, which will increase the life of the landfill until approximately 2035, is costing more than initially expected.
Each $1 increase in tipping fees produces approximately $250,000 in revenue for the authority. Therefore, an increase of from $4-$6 per ton in the MSW tipping fee will be studied.
The current tipping fee for MSW is $29.50 per ton of which $2.25 per ton goes to Horry County government for the county wide 911 communications system.
In 1995, the HCSWA was charging $30 per ton with no money going to county government, according to authority staff.
Therefore, it is not unreasonable for an increase in tipping fee to be needed at this time.
According to HCSWA staff, the statewide average tipping fee for MSW is $35 per ton.
However, board members requested a complete breakdown of designated and undesignated reserve funds available to the authority at this time. This breakdown will give a more complete picture of the long term financial health of the HCSWA.
Ultimately, the increase in fees will be paid by the citizens and business owners in the county. Therefore it is important to ensure that the increase is truly needed.
And if tipping fees are increased, we must all be assured that none of the increase paid by Horry County citizens goes to cover losses associated with the Charleston County recyclable processing contract.