By Paul Gable
As the S.C. General Assembly considers legislation this year that would make flow control of the waste stream illegal throughout the state, Horry County government is planning to expand waste operations of the Horry County Solid Waste Authority and carry the fight into the courts to maintain its government monopoly over the waste business within county borders.
For over three years now, Horry County has legislated that all waste generated within the county must be disposed at the county dump, also known as the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, at rates dictated by the SWA.
This is nothing more than maximizing the income stream for the county created SWA, which operates as a quasi-governmental authority, without the SWA having to compete in the free market against private companies. And it must work well because the SWA has cut no jobs, even in the depressed economy, and each of its over 100 employees received a $500 Christmas bonus in 2011 and 2012.
The flow control legislation was precipitated by the fact that several small hauling companies, operating in the county, were dumping construction and demolition waste at out-of-county landfills where they were charged lower tipping fees. As a result of the county legislated monopoly, these small, independent companies were forced to dump the waste they collect at the county landfill and pay higher rates to do so. The companies became non-competitive, either going out of business completely or laying off a number of workers because of a loss of business.
Do not miss that point. The small private haulers affected by this legislation suffered loss of jobs and business because they were forced by the county government to operate in a strictly regulated market whose only goal was to protect the income of the county created SWA.
County council hasn’t blinked an eye at socializing waste disposal, resulting in loss of jobs for county citizens. In fact, the council legislated that these private haulers must install GPS systems in their trucks, at their own expense, so “Big Brother” SWA could constantly track the trucks that were hauling garbage in the county and make sure they were dumping at the county landfill.
Recently, the county Administration Committee instructed the SWA to present a plan to buy trucks and containers so it could move into trash hauling operations. Again, the issue is to get the private sector completely out of the trash business in Horry County.
Operating as a tax free, government subsidized agency, the SWA can use predatory pricing in the hauling business of waste operations to put private companies out of business.
Could the citizens of Horry County pay lower fees for waste disposal if the free market were allowed to operate? We’ll never know because county council will not allow it to happen. Instead, county council wants to establish the most complete government monopoly of business since the Soviet Union collapsed over 20 years ago.