A bank robber was asked why he always held up banks instead of something less secure. He replied “because that’s where the money is.” In fact, there’s a lot of money in the Horry County garbage dump, otherwise known as the “landfill.”
It’s no secret that the garbage business has long been a favorite revenue source for organized crime, although there is
no evidence to indicate that might be a problem in Horry County, at least not as far as anyone seems to know. Still, following the money generated by the landfill garbage business has a lot of local politicians scrambling to either hoard it in the county’s coffers or, on the other hand, open the garbage bank, so to speak, for private companies to share in the loot. A bill that would end the monopoly on trash collection by the county’s garbage man, the Solid Waste Authority is working its way through the legislature and stands a good chance of approval.
The South Carolina State House has approved and sent on to the Senate a proposal to ditch Horry County’s trash “flow control” regulation and it’s got SWA officials worried that they will lose significant revenues. The reasons are many, including the likelihood that trash collectors will haul their loads to less expensive places and that losing tight control over trash disposal would open the county to a liability it doesn’t want. Also, the funds are used to subsidize the recycling program--which is a financial loser--and the county’s E911 emergency phone service. These funds will be considerably reduced. On the other hand, a bunch of local politicians are well aware that the public always leans against monopolies and supporting private business is just good politics.
Stuck in the middle of this debate is controversy over who gets paid what to operate the SWA, how management handles its expenses and whether government, through an authority, should even be in the garbage business. It’s almost certain that, if the anti-flow control bill is approved and signed by the governor, that the county will take it to the courts…and it could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Local attorneys are probably already gearing up for what could be a whole new way to collect garbage revenue.