By Paul Gable
Three state senators trying to block legislation that would make monopoly flow control of solid waste disposal illegal throughout South Carolina stated their case recently in an opinion piece to local media.
Greg Hembree (R-28), Luke Rankin (R-33) and Kent Williams (D-30) authored bi-partisan opposition to the Business Freedom to Choose Act that has already passed the S.C. House and is under consideration in the S.C. Senate.
Prior to the bill (H3290) being filed for the current legislative session, it was known that it would face opposition from these three senators and, quite possibly, only from these three senators.
Their stated reasons for opposition are a combination of obfuscation, bogeymen and cherry picking of facts to attempt to form a reasoned argument.
What stands out immediately is their stated “support” for “home rule” in the opening paragraph of the op-ed. If Rankin and Williams are such great supporters of home rule, where was their opposition to Act 388 in 2007, which stripped local governments of much of their ability to control the revenue side of their budgets?
If they are such great proponents of home rule why have Rankin and/or Hembree not introduced legislation to give local control to board appointments of public agencies such as the County Transportation Committee and Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority?
Why are development impact fees not allowed by state law? Certainly the impact of development is a decision best left to the local government agency it directly affects.
Why do timeshare units get special rules from state government allowing them to avoid the same tax treatment as traditional hotels and shifting the burden of providing services for these units to other taxpayers?
Sorry guys, your argument for “home rule” doesn’t pass the smell test.
Of course, we also heard the great bogeyman argument of the possibility of large, private corporations taking over the local landfill on Hwy 90 and bringing in loads of trash from New York City and other northern locales. Another northern invasion – always a way to stir up the juices of local residents, but totally inaccurate.
“But if our public landfills can’t depend upon a steady stream of trash directed from within their local areas, they will either begin to raise taxes, increase disposal rates, sell out to private companies for less than the public has invested or begin taking out-of-state waste,” reads a portion of the article.
But, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority banked over $30 million in excess revenue accounts before flow control was ever put in place.
“When Horry County passed a “flow control” ordinance several years ago to require that all trash generated in Horry be taken to its own Solid Waste Authority, taxpayers in Horry benefitted when the SWA used proceeds to fund useful programs and agencies such as school recycling programs and the county’s E-911 service,” reads another portion of the article.
Not true! The so-called “useful” and “school recycling” programs were in place long before flow control and the E911 funding comes from the $2.75 per ton that the SWA’s own outside study expert R.W. Beck, Inc. said was an overcharge on tipping fees.
“DHEC has actually permitted the potential for Marion’s private landfills to bury 42 times the amount of C&D waste currently generated within the county. We object to Marion being treated as South Carolina’s “pay toilet” just as much as we object to the nation’s treatment of our beloved State as one,” is another beautiful bit of prose in the op-ed.
If I have this straight, Marion County, landfilling construction and demolition waste from other counties, is a “pay toilet”, but Horry County, landfilling both C&D and municipal solid waste (household garbage) and also taking waste from other counties including at least one in North Carolina, is not.
“Can you imagine no laws directing where trash is taken?” the article asks.
Yes we can – 45 of the 46 counties in South Carolina have no flow control ordinance. The counties that joined together to form the Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority made minimum commitments to the landfill to make sure the $50 million in bonds that were issued would be paid off, but no monopoly flow control requirement.
Greenville County, which has possibly the most impressive public landfill operation in the state, competes very successfully in the marketplace with several privately owned landfills.
Flow control in Horry County was about establishing a government monopoly in trash disposal so the SWA could increase its revenue stream. I personally think there was also something of a personal vendetta against the small, private haulers whose operations were seriously impacted by the passage of a flow control ordinance.
To attempt any other explanation or justification for flow control is to not understand the issues or to intentionally misrepresent the facts.