Reconsidering the HCSWA

By Paul Gable

A Horry County Council workshop scheduled for February 6, 2014 at 5 p.m. will consider amending Ordinance 60-90 to add a formal process for dissolving the Horry County Solid Waste Authority (HCSWA).

Free standing, quasi-governmental authorities are the worst form of public agency. They have a tendency to forget they are public agencies trusted with implementation of public policy through the use of public dollars. The HCSWA proves this statement every day.

Since its creation, in December 1990, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority board has acted as if it was the board of a private corporation rather than the implementation arm of Horry County Council’s solid waste policy. And the HCSWA board quickly developed its own peculiar form of corporate arrogance.

The HCSWA has never completed its first task, set out in Ordinance 60-90, namely, “to develop an acceptable alternative method of solid waste disposal to reduce the tonnage of solid waste disposal in sanitary landfills…”

Rather than follow that simple directive from county council, the HCSWA board has, through the years, spent millions of dollars on property it doesn’t use and wasted millions more on consultants, lawyers, lobbyists and public relations while pursuing one fanciful scheme after another for developing a guaranteed revenue stream.

While the HCSWA board is to be faulted for many of these actions, Horry County Council must also bear its share of blame for failing to exercise proper oversight of the public agency it created.

Essentially left to its own devices, the HCSWA board got out of control while completely forgetting it is really nothing more than a unit of county government charged with overseeing garbage disposal. Its three primary functions are operating the landfill on Hwy 90, the convenience centers in the unincorporated areas of the county and the material recycling facility.

The HCSWA should have never been allowed to become involved in public policy fights, legislative lobbying, land accumulation and the myriad other activities that have accomplished nothing more than the wasteful spending of millions of public dollars.

Amending Ordinance 60-90 to provide for dissolution of the HCSWA is absolutely necessary. Currently, a majority of HCSWA board members can vote to dissolve the agency and disburse its tens of millions of dollars of public assets.

During last week’s HCSWA board meeting, a majority consensus of the board followed the lead of one member who adamantly stated, “We need to look after our own business,” as he advocated wasting more public dollars on lobbying activities.

It’s not your business folks! You just don’t seem to get that!

The HCSWA should work for the people of Horry County under the close policy direction of county council.

Rather than just providing a legislative process for dissolution of the HCSWA, county council should seriously consider dissolving the authority status.

Reorganizing the landfill and convenience center operations under the county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Division, with the HCSWA board replaced by an advisory board, would go a long way toward reducing the waste of millions of public dollars on Hwy 90. It would ensure, instead, those public dollars are used for the benefit of the citizens of the county and lay oversight of the operations directly with county council where it properly belongs.

 

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