HCSWA Taking Charleston Recyclables

By Paul Gable

The HCSWA board voted unanimously to begin taking recyclable materials from Charleston County next week.

This approval is contingent on Charleston County agreeing to the terms of a Recyclables Processing Intergovernmental Agreement approved unanimously by the HCSWA board.

Charleston County had been sent a copy of the revised agreement four hours before the HCSWA board meeting with no comment in the interim. Sentiment among HCSWA staff members was that Charleston County would agree to the terms and recyclables from Charleston County would begin to be processed at the HCSWA material recycling facility (MRF) next week.

There were some changes from the first draft proposal the HCSWA board voted to move forward with last week.

Key changes include a two year contract with up to three additional six month terms upon the agreement of both parties.

Charleston County must guarantee Horry County a minimum of 2,500 tons per month with a maximum limit of 3,000 tons per month.

A base market value (BMV) for sales of the recyclables is set at $150 per ton. There is a 10% leeway on the BMV in each direction. If the revenue from sale of the recyclables falls to below $135 per ton, Charleston County will make up the difference to the Horry County minimum guarantee of $135 per ton. The HCSWA currently is selling recyclables processed at the MRF for $134 per month.

Horry County will share profits from the sale of the recyclables with Charleston County above a market value of $165 per ton.

A 60 day termination clause upon notice of either party is now being offered. However, the way in which it was arrived at is problematic.

The 60 day termination clause resulted from board discussion about the startup costs for the HCSWA in ramping up to process recyclables from Charleston County. This is different than the 30 day termination clause the Horry County Council Administration Committee specified the day before as a requirement.

According to several sources, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus was consulted by phone before the change to 60 days was voted on by the board. Lazarus was the one who made the motion for a 30 day clause at the Admin Committee meeting. Lazarus, reportedly, agreed to 60 days.

The 60 day clause makes sense as presented at the HCSWA board meeting but the process at approving it is the problem. Direction and oversight from the county council Admin Committee was placed at 30 days by a unanimous 4-0 vote on Lazarus’ motion by committee members.

A phone call obtaining Lazarus’ approval for 60 days doesn’t override the direction given by formal vote of the committee. If we are going to operate with a deliberative representative government process to provide oversight and direction, there are procedures that need to be followed to establish and change that direction.

There was time urgency, especially on the part of Charleston County, to get this agreement approved. The overall agreement is good for Horry County, providing the potential for up to $1 million per year in new profits while guarding as much as possible against loss.

Nevertheless, there is proper procedure that needs to be followed or we don’t have representative government at all.

I chastised the Admin Committee in a previous post for making certain demands within the contents of the motion. Nevertheless, once the motion was approved, it expressed the will and direction of the committee providing oversight.

And, the changes in expenses and revenues brought on by the agreement must be approved by an absolute super majority of the full council on a three reading budget amendment ordinance.

I believe the changes made by the HCSWA board improve the agreement, but proper procedure must be followed.

The HCSWA board met at two specially called meetings in the last two weeks so the negotiations could be moved along. The same should have been done by council committees and/or full council to move the process along properly.

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