Horry County Council voted Tuesday to provide an opportunity for licensed haulers of construction and demolition debris to take their waste to landfills outside the county, a move that has worried some council members and landfill operators for some time.
Council voted 7-4 at its twice monthly meeting to repeal the construction and debris portion, or C&D portion, from its flow control ordinance. Councilmen Harold Worley, James Frazier, Paul Prince and Carl Schwartzkopf voted against the repeal.
This was the third reading of the ordinance and Councilman Marion Foxworth is the only one who changed his vote since the two previous votes. Foxworth said during a break in the meeting that he changed his vote because of an amendment pitched this weekend via email to all council members.
“There are some very good things contained in this amendment,” Foxworth said. The amendment, drafted by County Attorney Arrigo Carotti, includes a list of documents from various state agencies that could help the county defend itself in the event of a challenge of the repeal. Councilmen went into closed session earlier this month to discuss the possibility of a company suing the county for enforcing the ordinance since 2009 and then repealing it.
Though the repeal issue has been debated at the first two readings and a special workshop, council members spent more than an hour Tuesday debating the amendment and the ordinance, which takes effect Feb. 1.
Worley wanted the council to have more time with the amendment.
“This is a substantial change,” Worley said. “This deserves at least another public hearing... If this isn’t a substantial change, I don’t know what is.”
Proponents of the repeal, including Councilman Jody Prince, have said they want to see the life of the landfill extended by allowing businesses to take C&D waste outside the county, and some have said the county should not dictate where a business takes its C&D debris. It can be cheaper by about $8 per ton to haul the debris outside Horry County.
“This is doing nothing other than establishing legislative record,” Prince said.
Those who want to keep the C&D portion of flow control say the authority has spent a lot of time and money to defend its ordinance and by removing that portion, it could mean the authority may lose up to $40 million over the lifetime of the landfill if enough businesses opt to take their C&D to other landfills. One reason a hauler might choose to take the C&D debris to an out-of-county landfill is the fee per ton.
Sandlands C&D, a landfill on the border of Horry and Marion counties for example, charges $20 per ton of C&D material. The county, on the other hand, charges $26.50 per ton. It costs about $18 per ton to handle the C&D waste, and more than $2 goes to the county’s coffers leaving about $6 per ton to go to programs, education and the landfill’s post-closure fund, landfill officials have said.
However, Councilman Gary Loftus showed the council how tonnage numbers and employee numbers did not drastically change when flow control was implemented.
“I just don’t see how passing this is going to affect us when it hasn’t affected us the past four years,” Loftus said.
Worley said he is concerned now that the C&D portion is repealed, soon the municipal solid waste portion will be repealed as well. He said allowing too much out of the control of the county will force taxpayers to “kiss our landfill operations good bye over a period of years.”
“If you believe for one minute that this is about C&D... you have your head in the sand,” Worley said during the meeting. “It’s about [municipal solid waste].”