Bill against flow control moves through subcommittee

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - On Wednesday, a South Carolina State Senate subcommittee voted to approve a new bill that could spell an end for flow control throughout Horry County and the Palmetto State. But some proponents of the program say it could end up being more trouble than it's worth.

"It's moving pretty quick," said Mike Bessant with the Horry County Solid Waste Authority this week. "We want it to slow down so people realize the impacts it will have."

The bill, called the Business Freedom to Choose Act, would outlaw flow control, and give waste removal companies the freedom to choose any landfill to dump trash, instead of being restricted to landfills within the county in which they operate.

"We've lost 70 percent of our business," said William Clyburn, owner of the Sandlands Construction and Demolition landfill in Marion County. "We had 25 employees before flow control- now we're down to 8"

On Wednesday, a subcommittee voted to approve the bill; it now heads to a full committee vote before final approval by the state Senate. When they voted on the bill, however, they voted to change the wording of the bill as well.

"It's caught every county," said State Senator Raymond Cleary, who represents part of Horry County. "All 46 counties are in the process now."

The Medical Affairs Subcommittee voted to move the Business Freedom to Choose Act through, but they've changed the wording of the actual bill, bringing back the wording of a previous bill, S203.

Horry County has operated under flow control restrictions since the 1990's, and with the county's solitary landfill run by the Solid Waste Authority outside Conway, the SWA has developed a monopoly on trash.

"The Supreme Court has said those kind of monopolies can exist," Bessant said. "And yes, we do have a monopoly."

Opponents of flow control say it allows landfills to keep fees high, with the costs trickling down to the customer, but Bessant says many of the fees generated by the SWA go back to several Horry County programs. If the SWA has to lower fees to compete with other landfills, some of those services could go away.

"Two dollars of our fee goes to emergency 911 services," Bessant said. "Without it, you'd have a millage increase."

Some local leaders say the push to fight the bill is too little, too late, but because of the distance of other landfills, outlawing flow control wouldn't affect the SWA.

"You've got a landfill in Lee County, you pay an extra $200 to get it there," said Horry County Councilman Gary Loftus. "Then you've got the fees. What are you going to do? You're going to take it to Solid Waste."

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