By Paul Gable
The Horry County Solid Waste Authority is trying to enlist the help of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce with lobbying efforts to maintain the solid waste flow control monopoly the SWA currently enjoys in the county.
Officials from the SWA have asked the chamber’s Legislative Policy Council, chaired by George Mims, to help urge the defeat of the Business Freedom to Choose Act, currently under consideration in the SC Senate.
The Business Freedom to Choose Act would ban flow control within the borders of South Carolina. Of course, since Horry County is the only county of the 46 in the state to have legislatively mandated a government monopoly over solid waste disposal, the SWA is hoping the Chamber will see the fight as local.
Only in the Machiavellian twists of Horry County politics would a big government monopoly request and expect support from an organization whose mission is to support and promote a thriving private business marketplace.
In the last several years, the SWA has spent over $850,000 for lobbying, in excess of $650,000 on lawyers and more than $1,300,000 for public relations, all related to establishing and maintaining its government monopoly on garbage disposal through flow control.
While the SWA has been cementing its monopoly, small, private hauling and recycling businesses within the county have had to significantly reduce employees and, in some instances, close their doors completely.
The government established, tax dollar supported, unregulated SWA is asking the Chamber to support its anti-private business monopoly so the SWA can continue to add to its bank accounts, already totaling over $35 million of excess cash reserves.
The outreach for support from the Chamber comes just days after Horry County Council voted 10-1 to prepare for a legal battle if the General Assembly outlaws the county flow control monopoly ordinance.
Our hats are tipped to council member Paul Price who was the only representative of the people with enough courage and good sense to vote against spending county tax dollars to defend the SWA monopoly.
Price was also the only council member to vote against the spending of tax dollars to guarantee Canadian airline WestJet against revenue losses when it begins flying routes to Myrtle Beach International and to vote against the county buying out North Myrtle Beach airport private fixed base operator Ramp 66.
The flow control monopoly, at the expense of private business, now is squarely an issue in the county council chairman special election race.
Council member and chairman candidate Al Allen voted to spend county tax dollars for a legal fight against the state to protect and extend the SWA monopoly at the expense of private business.
Chairman candidates Mark Lazarus and Liz Gilland, both former council members and SWA supporters, defended the legal battle the county is preparing for at a candidates’ forum in Carolina Forest several nights ago in the name of “Home Rule.”
But, this issue is not about “Home Rule”. County government does not have any real control over the SWA nor does it derive any economic benefit from it.
This issue is simply about extending and solidifying the monopolistic control of the quasi-governmental, essentially unregulated SWA so it can continue to amass public tax dollars into its private coffers at the expense of the citizens of the county.