By Paul Gable
The specter of further contretemps between Horry County Council and the Coast RTA board over appointment power to that board appears to be looming in the not too distant future.
Horry County provides approximately 50% of the total amount of state and local grants to the transit authority ($1.06 million of an approximate $2 million total). Those grants are matched 50-50 by the federal government to provide most of the Coast RTA operating budget.
Fourth quarter FY 2014 funds were only recently released to Coast RTA by county council. But, if information sources are providing to us proves accurate, the real showdown will come when next year’s budget is discussed.
County voters approved funding Coast RTA in the amount now provided in county grants in a 2010 advisory referendum. However, some council members are insisting they believe county voters also want close oversight of those funds by council.
Council has one representative out of the nine member Coast RTA board.
This is all well and good until county council oversight of public funds in general is considered.
The county provides the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation with $1.3 million out of the county general fund. Another $500,000, for certain incentives, is available upon council approval.
Council has two representatives on the MBREDC board, out of a total of 43 board members. I would submit, the council representatives in the past have acted more as cheerleaders for MBREDC projects, such as the infamous Project Blue and AvCraft proposals, rather than providing oversight of county tax dollars for such dubious projects.
Next, consider the Horry County Solid Waste Authority. Council appoints all seven board members of the HCSWA, then, proceeds to step away from any oversight of an agency that has a budget of $22 million, virtually all of which comes from public dollars.
When the HCSWA was created 22 years ago by county ordinance, its primary purpose was to “develop an acceptable alternative of solid waste disposal and to reduce the tonnage of solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills (in the county),”
Instead it has done just the opposite. At one time, it agreed to become the host landfill for a regional waste disposal concept of 10 counties. Currently it has a monopoly on county waste, requiring 100% of it to be disposed at the HCSWA Hwy 90 landfill.
Yet, in 22 years, council has rarely questioned, or even known, or apparently cared, exactly what is going on at the HCSWA.
Why put a microscope on Coast RTA while cheerleading for MBREDC and ignoring the HCSWA?
It’s all about politics folks, not about the amount of public money involved or the fiduciary responsibilities of county council.
Political influence wins every time in Horry County and Coast RTA has the least.