I&R Committee Needs Serious Study of HCSWA By-laws

By Paul Gable

The Horry County Solid Waste Authority (HCSWA) Board of Directors made a further amendment Tuesday night to the amended By-laws it sent to Horry County Council for approval.

The county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee will consider the amended bylaws at its regular meeting Monday.

The By-laws of the HCSWA have always sent a mixed bag of mixed messages allowing the authority to claim independence from Horry County Council far too often.

There is no independence. The most recent amendment proves this by stating:

“If an Article, or Article Section or Sub-section (“provision”) of these By-Laws shall conflict with the provisions of a Section, Sub-Section or any part of any preceding Ordinance of Horry County, then such conflicting provision shall be deemed repealed and no longer in effect.”

That statement is well and good as a catchall, but why not catch and change the conflicting provisions of the by-laws before considering approval?

For example, Article XIII of the HCSWA amended bylaws proposes a change to read, “Upon dissolution of the Authority all of the Authority’s assets shall be distributed to Horry County, South Carolina in such manner as determined by the Board of Directors of the Authority upon approval by Horry County Council.”

However, Horry County Ordinance 14-14 already deals specifically with dissolution of the authority, how it will be handled and how assets will be determined to be distributed. Ordinance 14-14 is an amendment to Ordinance 60-90 which established the authority in December 1990.

The HCSWA board has no say in the distribution of authority assets, according to current county law. Why try to make it seem as if they will, with a by-law amendment, when county ordinance already precludes this?

The seven member board of the HCSWA is appointed by Horry County Council to oversee the day to day management and affairs of the authority. Ultimate policy for solid waste disposal within the county rests with county council, according to state law, not the HCSWA board.

For far too long, the authority board has been allowed to think it is an independent body making decisions with no one to answer to. Provisions of its by-laws can lead one to that conclusion.

No longer should authority officials be able to claim ‘in court we’re not the county, sometimes we’re part of the county and sometimes we’re somewhere in between.’

Only last year, an email from HCSWA board chairman Rev. James Cokley to fellow board members stated, “It is not our obligation nor responsibility to ensure that the desires of others, including those desires of individual members of Horry County Council, be met or instituted unless our bylaws are judicially ruled against the bylaws of Horry County Council. Anyone who sits on a Board for an agency ought be able to be entrusted to do what is best for that particular agency over and against what others on the outside looking in may desire…”

If the HCSWA board chairman does not understand the exact relationship between Horry County Council and the HCSWA, it is time for county council to ensure he does by a thorough reconsideration of the entire body of by-laws.

The county’s I&R Committee should take a long, serious look at the entire body of the HCSWA By-laws, not just the amendments now being requested, before making any decision on them.

No longer should the authority board be allowed to spend money on lobbyists (over $1 million) or engage in other wasteful spending of the public dollars flowing into the HCSWA.

 

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