By Paul Gable
After seeing notice of a proposed nominee to the Horry County Solid Waste Authority (HCSWA) Board of Directors, it appears that everything is back to normal on Hwy 90.
As we have recently seen with Coast RTA, oversight is the single most important function that an appointed board should exercise over the public agency it is associated with.
Otherwise, you can wind up owing hundreds of thousands of public dollars to state and federal agencies because of poor program management leading to failed projects.
To be fair, in the case of the HCSWA, it is much more the wasting of millions of public dollars on lobbyists, attorneys and public relations firms because the board fails to say no to wasteful management recommendations.
This latest proposed board appointment is a recommendation by the League of Cities for a lawyer who is a member of the law firm that defended the HCSWA and the county’s flow control ordinance in federal court.
Why choose someone from a firm that has earned thousands of public dollars in fees from the HCSWA? It’s all part of the mentality that persists on Hwy 90 of appointing board members who act as nothing more than a rubber stamp to management decisions. Often very questionable decisions from the perspective of the taxpayers of Horry County.
This is the board that meekly supported HCSWA management’s gloom and doom predictions if a flow control monopoly over all of the county’s garbage was not enacted for the agency. Nobody on the board asked any questions, they just went along.
So, five years ago the county enacted a flow control ordinance to demand that all waste generated in the county be deposited at the HCSWA Hwy 90 landfill. This hurt private business in the county, but not any of the private businesses associated with HCSWA board members.
Five years after the flow control ordinance was first enacted, county waste is disposed in the same fashion as it was before the flow control ordinance was enacted thanks to an amendment to the ordinance passed by county council earlier this year. All municipal solid waste goes to the Hwy 90 landfill while construction and demolition waste is free to go to any approved landfill.
During the five years flow control was regulated over all waste generated in the county (both MSW and C&D), the HCSWA spent millions of dollars on lobbyists, lawyers and public relations. Five years, millions of public dollars all to get back to the original starting point of waste disposal.
Was this a good expenditure of public dollars? Of course not, but the vast majority of HCSWA board members meekly went along without asking questions or exercising oversight of HCSWA management.
Horry County Council chairman Mark Lazarus performed an important service to county taxpayers when he appointed a select committee to investigate project management and the reasons for project failures at Coast RTA.
Now it’s time for the appointment of a select committee to study management practices at the HCSWA. This study should include a forensic audit of HCSWA financial records to determine just how much has been spent by the agency on idiotic programs and policies. This is public money being wasted!
It’s also time for county council to conduct rigid oversight over HCSWA board appointments so that board will no longer be peopled by obsequious sycophants who provide no oversight at all.
Better yet, it’s time to dissolve the authority and put the Hwy 90 landfill under the same status as the county airports – a department of county government.