Time will tell whether a more than two-hour workshop Monday swayed Horry County Councilmen one way or the other about repealing the construction and demolition portion of the county’s flow control ordinance – a move that could cost the Horry County Solid Waste Authority more than $927,000 annually.
Councilmen will vote Tuesday night on the second reading to repeal the construction and demolition debris portion of the flow control ordinance.
The projected $927,500 loss talked about Monday as well as the estimated 35,000 tons of construction and demolition debris were focal points of the workshop’s discussion.
Mike Bessant, assistant executive director at the authority, showed councilmen where those figures came from. He said if all businesses who were not bringing their construction debris to Horry County’s landfill on S.C. 90 before the flow control ordinance forced them to beginning in 2009 resorted to taking their debris elsewhere, that’s where the authority would lose that money. If it loses that money, recycling education programs, recycyling pickup for businesses and household hazardous waste programs would see cuts.
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The council passed the first reading of the ordinance in December with a 6-5 vote. The ordinance will take three readings to pass. Councilmen Carl Schwarzkopf, Paul Prince, Marion Foxworth, Harold Worley and James Frazier voted against the first reading of the repeal. Councilman Brent Schulz recused himself from the discussion and vote.
Horry County set a precedent with the ordinance, prompting counties like Lexington and Greenville to explore their own ordinances. The House approved the Business Freedom to Choose Act, which prohibits local governments from enacting flow control ordinances on solid waste disposal. The bill allows for private businesses to get back in the game of receiving C&D debris so that local governments do not have an unfair competitive advantage over private enterprise.
Local House and Senate delegates are split on the ordinance. In November, Sen. Greg Hembree called it “clearly the most divisive issue that we dealt with as a delegation this year.” Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Surfside Beach, said when Horry County passed the ordinance, he felt “it was an overreach by local government.”
Council Chairman Mark Lazarus said the flow control bill at the state level could “go away,” which would leave it up to future councils to decide if the repeal was a bad idea.
“We have hopes that, if this is passed, that we’ll see the bill possibly go away in the statehouse... we’ll still have the ability of flow control,” Lazarus said. “We’ll still have flow control. And at anytime that it’s ever brought before us, the way this is written, and it is harming to the solid waste authority as we know it today, another council can simply put it back in place. So it’s not something that goes into infinity just because we vote on it. Another council can certainly change it another time if they see it as detrimental.”