By Paul Gable
Horry County may continue government monopoly flow control of its garbage waste stream, according to a ruling in federal district court last week.
The ruling dismissed the 2009 lawsuit by Sandlands LLC and Express Disposal Service challenging the legality of a county ordinance requiring all solid waste generated within Horry County be disposed of at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority landfill off Hwy 90.
With the dismissal, Horry County and the SWA will continue to exercise monopoly control over the county’s waste stream at the expense of a competitive market and private industry.
If a private company had this type of monopoly control of any industry, it would be ruled illegal and broken up. Since it’s a government established monopoly, the federal court system has seen fit to allow this type of monopoly control to continue.
The ruling sets up what could be an interesting legislative fight in Columbia in response to the government monopoly. Bills to close the loophole in the state’s Solid Waste Policy Management Act that has allowed this monopoly to be established will be considered again in the new legislative session.
While the SWA and the handful of senators it controls managed to keep similar legislation from receiving final passage by the S.C. General Assembly during the last legislative session, the fight will begin anew this month.
The SWA is a rather amorphous organization, sometimes calling itself an independent, private non-profit corporation, other times an extension of county government. One thing is certain, its budget is included as a section of the Horry County budget, operating as enterprise fund exactly like the Horry County Department of Airports, which is a sub-division of county government.
During the two years of the last legislative cycle, the SWA, according to its own check register, spent $865,000 with a North Myrtle Beach lobbying firm and another nearly $500,000 with a public relations firm.
This is public money, approximately 10 percent of the SWA’s operating budget, spent on lobbying and image building rather than services for the public.
And you wonder why government monopolies work to the detriment of the citizens they, supposedly, serve?