By Paul Gable
While the South Carolina “Business Freedom to Choose Act” (H3290) remains stalled in a Senate committee, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority is making other plans to continue its flow control monopoly on solid waste disposal generated within the county borders in case the act should eventually pass.
The SWA is going to certain private haulers offering tipping fee discounts if the haulers will sign long term contracts to bring their waste to the SWA’s Hwy 90 landfill. This new “disposal agreement” would essentially keep flow control of solid waste in place for the SWA if it is outlawed by the General Assembly.
One problem with the agreement is it appears to be illegal for the SWA to make changes to the county solid waste plan without public hearings and agreement from county and city councils, pursuant to the requirements of the S.C. Solid Waste Policy Management Act. However, such details have never bothered the SWA, which has made a practice of bludgeoning city and county councils into going along with its outrageous proposals.
Offering tipping fee discounts to selected haulers now is tacit admission by the SWA that it has been overcharging on tipping fees all along. This means SWA officials lied to county council and the public in 2008 when they said they needed the income from all the waste generated in the county in order to not cut recycling and education programs.
Of course, that should be no surprise since all the way back in 2004, with the R.W. Beck study completed for the SWA, it was estimated the SWA’s tipping fees were, at a minimum, $2.75 per ton too high.
You need look no further than the $35 million in reserve funds the SWA has invested to see that the study estimates of overcharges were low.
The machinations of the SWA are perfect examples of what can happen, to the detriment of the citizenry, when a government created bureaucracy is put in place and allowed to establish absolute control over private industry.
Unfortunately, to date, no locally elected governmental body has had the fortitude to challenge this runaway bureaucratic mess and, now, the fever to establish governmental flow control monopolies in other counties in the state is spreading.