Horry County Council to look into legal action to protect trash regulation ordinance

bdickerson@thesunnews.comFebruary 19, 2013 

— Horry County Council passed a resolution Tuesday night authorizing the county administrator to look into possible legal action if the state legislature passes a pair of bills that would effectively kill the county’s trash regulation ordinance.

Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman, said there are no options as of yet, and the resolution represents the governing body’s will to seek outside counsel to discuss the issue.

“We would have to,” Bourcier said about extra legal assistance.

She added there are no figures yet as to how much it would cost the county to retain outside counsel.

The county’s trash regulation ordinance – passed in 2009 – requires that all garbage generated within Horry County be dumped in a local landfill. It is the only ordinance of its kind in the state and private haulers say it creates a monopoly.

Right now, state legislators are considering House Bill 3290 and Senate Bill 203. Both are similar to legislation introduced in the 2012 legislative session but never passed into law.

“The county sees this as more of a home rule issue,” said Mike Bessant, governmental affairs director for the Horry County Solid Waste Authority. “I think it’s important to see where it goes.”

Councilman Harold Worley has said he can’t understand why the delegation thinks it can suddenly run the waste stream in Horry County better than the County Council can.

Horry County’s tipping fees – the fees paid by trash haulers – are $29 a ton, among the lowest in the state. Bessant has said before that if the county’s trash laws disappear, so will the educational and recycling programs those fees support.

Additionally, Bessant anticipates residents wouldn’t feel a financial pinch right away if the trash regulation ordinance goes away, but it would happen eventually.

Recommendations on legal action will now go back to county’s administration committee for consideration. The date of that next meeting has not yet been scheduled.

In other action Tuesday, the council passed a resolution that approves entering into a revenue guarantee agreement with WestJet Airlines, the air carrier that will provide service from Toronto to Myrtle Beach starting in May.

According to the agreement, the county is placing in escrow $1 million to guarantee a level of revenue generation.

Bourcier said she doesn’t recall the council ever entering into such a revenue guarantee with an air carrier.

The county has, she added, offered incentives to airlines like landing fee reductions.

The $1 million is to ensure WestJet meets its 15 percent profit margin.

If the profit margin meets or exceeds 15 percent, Horry County won’t owe WestJet any money.

If it’s less than 15 percent, county taxpayers will have to pay the difference in an amount not exceeding the $1 million.

WestJet also will provide the county with a monthly report listing total revenue, the month’s estimated profit margin and load factors.

“Hopefully, we won’t have to pay anything,” Bourcier said.

Flights will run two days a week starting May 2 and going through Oct. 31.

The airliner is Canadian-based and serves 85 destinations in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. The additional flights to Myrtle Beach will help the local golf and tourism industries, leaders said, by trimming what is usually a 16-hour-plus drive into a roughly two-hour flight.

Canada is the top international market for Grand Strand tourism, and the area has long celebrated that relationship with the annual Canadian-American Days festival in March.

Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_bdickerson.

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