The two candidates vying for the state House District 106 seat are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to a controversial Horry County issue -- flow control.
It’s an issue the state legislature is currently discussing, as two bills move through the House and Senate, respectively, that would effectively kill the county’s flow control ordinance, which requires all Horry County waste to be disposed of in county landfills and prevents out-of-county waste haulers from using local dumps.
Incumbent Rep. Nelson Hardwick has been vocal in his opposition to the county’s flow control law since it was first enacted in 2009.
“I see that as a monopoly,” Hardwick said. “When you have no choices, it’s a monopoly.”
Hardwick believes flow control is detrimental to private garbage haulers by giving them no other choices, other than doing business with the local landfill.
“I don’t like going against the government or the business community in Horry County, but when I feel like in my heart they’re wrong ... I’m going to call them on it,” he said.
Challenger Rod Smith sees flow control as beneficial to Horry County.
“It helps support the recycling programs. Most people that I’ve met like recycling,” he said.
Horry County’s tipping fees -- the fees paid by trash haulers -- are $29 a ton, among the lowest in the state. Fears are if flow control disappears, so will the educational and recycling programs those fees support.
Smith, a member of the Surfside Beach Town Council, said the town has a good recycling program with a high participation rate.
He fears if flow control goes away, it would negatively impact the landfill through the deletion of recycling programs like the one in Surfside Beach.
“It keeps garbage out of the landfill,” he said.
Economic diversity and I-73
Trash wasn’t the only topic the two candidates hit upon. Another hot-button issue along the Grand Strand has been ways of diversifying the local economy, which is primarily tourism-driven.
Smith doesn’t see the area getting a lot of industrial-type jobs simply because of its standing as a vacation destination.
“We’re primarily a tourist-based economy and that’s way off into the future,” he said.
Hardwick said the best way to help the local economy branch out is by supporting Interstate 73, the proposed highway that supporters say could create 29,000 new jobs.
Smith said I-73 would put the Grand Strand “on the map better,” in that people know that Myrtle Beach is here, but there’s no major interstate connected to it.
“That’s why I-73 is important,” he said.
Hardwick said the governor announces jobs every day, and 96 percent of the money invested in South Carolina happens within 20 miles of an interstate.
But how will I-73 be funded? That’s a question both men feel hasn’t been answered.
“There’s just no money in the federal budget to do it,” Smith said.
Hardwick said a good solution has yet to be found, and will require area politicians -- from the local level on up to Washington -- to come together and hash out an answer to the funding issue.
He didn’t rule out suggesting an option such as the 1 cent sales tax that Horry County uses to fund its major road projects.
“We’ve just got to look at all options. Nobody’s going to do it for us,” Hardwick said.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301.