By Paul Gable
Horry County Council members recently rejected two requests from the HCSWA (Horry County Solid Waste Authority) board demonstrating which group holds final say on HCSWA decisions.
Several weeks ago, a group of council members told HCSWA officials to forget any ideas of raising tipping fees at the Hwy 90 landfill in the fiscal year 2016-17 budget.
HCSWA board and staff said a $5-$6 per ton increase in tipping fees was needed to offset a projected deficit in next year’s authority budget.
Council members said ‘Not going to happen.’
More recently, council informed the HCSWA board it supported authority board member Dan Gray remaining on the HCSWA board.
Several months ago, the HCSWA board tried to build a case for removing Gray from the board. The case was built on a foundation of sand and, frankly, was completely without merit.
The comments about Gray’s supposed transgressions, by five board members during a two hour discussion, were petty, personal and totally unprofessional by those involved.
Nevertheless, the HCSWA board voted 5-2 to request county council remove Gray from the HCSWA board.
Again council replied, ‘Not going to happen.’
What these denials mean is this group of Horry County Council members is going to exercise its ultimate right of oversight on HCSWA decisions.
For far too long, a succession of councils meekly allowed HCSWA officials to effectively do what they wanted with regard to waste handling policy without oversight.
This resulted in increased taxes on citizens in the unincorporated areas of the county to support increases in the unincorporated waste collection centers. It resulted in millions of dollars of public money being spent by HCSWA officials on such unnecessary items as lobbying, public relations and advertising and legal expenses to defend questionable decisions.
The ultimate transgression was county ordinance 09-02, which established flow control. This ordinance gave the HCSWA dictatorial power over all waste generated within Horry County while attempting to squeeze the private sector out of waste handling.
During this history of wasteful spending and attempted power grabs on waste handling decisions, the HCSWA board and officials, meekly followed by various county council members at the time, completely forgot the ultimate goal of the authority as set forth in the enabling legislation that established the authority (county ordinance 60-90).
That ordinance directs the HCSWA to establish a system, in conjunction with the private sector, to safely and efficiently handle the county’s waste in order to prolong the life of the Hwy 90 landfill as long as possible.
The ordinance does not direct the authority to establish a monopoly on waste collection, wastefully spend millions of public dollars on superfluous expenses or dictate policy to county council.
Finally we have a council majority that understands these simple concepts.