It’s a precautionary measure, but the Horry County Solid Waste Authority has prepared a budget that factors in a potentially $715,000 loss if the state legislature passes a bill that would effectively kill the county’s trash regulation ordinance, and some say eventually lead to .
Board members discussed the potential cutbacks during Friday’s SWA budget workshop. The reduction is factored into the 2014 fiscal year budget, which begins on July 1.
The balanced budget anticipates disposal and recycling operations to total $13.55 million for the upcoming fiscal year based on the current law. If the trash regulation ordinance – that says all garbage from Horry County must go into a local landfill – is taken away, SWA officials expect to lose approximately $715,558 in tipping fees.
That loss brings the disposal and recycling operations total budget down to roughly $12.8 million. The areas hardest hit are general administration and the SWA’s recycling programs, according to the draft budget.
Horry County’s tipping fees – the fees paid by trash haulers – are $29 a ton, among the lowest in the state.
Donna Crump, SWA director, told board members the monetary loss was based around an expected 30 percent reduction in construction and demolition waste for the 2014 fiscal year if the legislative bill passes.
Right now, SWA officials anticipate taking in 90,000 tons of C&D waste over the next fiscal year, Crump said. A possible 30 percent loss equates to 27,000 tons. The estimate was based on the tonnage brought in to the landfill by two of the SWA’s haulers.
“Obviously, it won’t walk out the door the first day,” Crump said.
Board member Dan Gray, for one, isn’t anticipating a doom and gloom scenario for the SWA.
“I don’t think the odds of flow control descending on us this fiscal year are very great,” he said.
Danny Knight, executive director of the SWA, told the board the portion of the budget taking into account the possible loss of the trash ordinance has, “a lot of ifs.”
SWA officials have previously prepared budgets that factored in this loss since it has been a topic in the state legislature the past two years.
Board members did not pass the budget at Friday’s meeting. It must go through multiple readings before ultimately making its way to the Horry County Council for formal adoption.
Horry County’s trash regulation ordinance – passed in 2009 – is the only ordinance of its kind in the state and private haulers say it creates a monopoly.
The S.C. Senate will take up the proposed bill when it returns for work on April 9.
Recently the S.C. Association of Counties have weighed in on the fight over trash.
The bill “cripples public solid waste programs, which will ultimately lead to their forced takeover by large out-of-state waste companies,” the counties association said in a legislative alert to its members last week. “It is important for you to understand and communicate the facts to the senators.”
If the law passes, county leaders say public landfills will be harder to operate because the bill hurts their ability to use landfill revenues for operations or to pay off debt to improve the waste sites. That would make it easier for private companies to buy the landfills, bring in out-of-state waste and charge higher prices to customers, they say.
Waste Management Inc. and Republic Services, two of the country’s biggest garbage companies, are key boosters of the bill.
The two companies also pushed the legislation last year, spending more than $350,000 lobbying the Legislature in 2012, according to records filed with the State Ethics Commission. That legislation ultimately did not pass.
Horry County’s SWA has spent approximately $51,766.37 on lobbying efforts in opposition to this year’s bill so far in 2013, according to check registries found on the agency’s website.
The SWA’s lobbying efforts are handled by Beam and Associates out of North Myrtle Beach.
The State contributed to this report.