By Paul Gable
The Horry County Infrastructure and Regulation Committee voted Thursday to recommend passage of third reading of the budget amendment for the HCSWA recycling contract.
That recommendation will go forward to full council at its October 6, 2015 regular meeting.
If this recommendation is acted upon by full council with a favorable super majority vote, as is expected at this time, the recycling contract between the HCSWA and Charleston County will move forward without any further clouds over its head at present.
Part of that budget amendment requires HCSWA officials to come before the I&R Committee monthly with reports on recycling tonnage received, percentage of rejects in that waste stream, income received from sales of the recyclables and expenses associated with the running of the HCSWA material recovery facility among other items.
An additional requirement associated with the contract was a requirement by members of Horry County Council that any rejects or unsold recyclables that were taken to the HCSWA landfill for disposal were not to displace any available airspace for normal county uses.
As a result, the HCSWA entered into a contract to ship out of the county at least an amount of construction and demolition debris tonnage equal to the tonnage of recycling rejects and unsellable items taken to the HCSWA landfill for disposal.
HCSWA executive director Danny Knight announced to the I&R Committee that a contract was in place with an out of county C&D landfill to meet that requirement.
Committee member Johnny Vaught reminded HCSWA board members present that they were the policy making body for the agency and that Knight and other HCSWA staff were hired to carry out policy set by the board.
In the process to get a contract negotiated with Charleston County, it seemed to this observer that the board and Horry County Council were late being apprised of the details of what was going on.
There was no question that this contract would require a three reading budget amendment ordinance in order to have final approval.
Even using Knight’s timeline presented to HCSWA board members Tuesday night, there was a full month of contact between Charleston County representatives, mainly waste consultant Mitch Kessler and county attorney and solid waste director Joe Dawson, before the board was first notified on June 30, 2015, that an “unnamed” county wanted to possibly bring recyclables to Horry County.
It was July 21, 2015 before the board was advised of contract negotiations and July 28, 2015 before any discussions were held with county council members. The board should have been notified immediately after the May 28, 2015 contact Knight claims as the first that Charleston County wanted to discuss bringing recyclables to Horry County for processing.
If the HCSWA board is to be the policy setting body, any such discussions must be approved by some type of vote at the beginning of the process, not near the end. The contract was signed by the HCSWA on July 31, 2015 and not put before Horry County Council until first reading of the budget amendment on August 18, 2015.
For too long, the HCSWA board has been a rubber stamp for actions of an executive striking out on his own. Through the years, at certain times, that executive was the chairman of the board. At other times, that executive was the executive director. None felt a need to include the full board until the 11th hour because they knew a rubber stamp vote was guaranteed.
That is why the HCSWA owns considerably more land than it has uses for. That is why the HCSWA landfill was, at one time, designated as the host landfill for a 10 county regional landfill entity. That is why flow control was passed and supported by over $1 million of HCSWA money to a lobbyist to sell the policy locally and in Columbia.
Board chairman Lance Thompson appears ready to lead a board that will be the policy and decision making body at the HCSWA.
I hope so. I wish him well in that endeavor.