MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach officials approved a $4.75 increase to residential solid waste rates as part of it’s 2019-2020 budget.
The monthly increase will help the city’s Solid Waste Department fund a new trash collection route.
Ed Marr, the department’s superintendent, explained residential growth in recent years has stretched collection crews thin.
Marr estimated crews are servicing around 200 more customers than the ideal route.
The four new trucks and six additional workers will ease each crew’s route by around 100 stops.
Marr explained the new route will be able to handle 3,000 more customers and should last the city for five years.
Residential growth isn’t the only challenge the crew are facing.
Marr said large amounts of trash and illegal dumping have caused frequent collection delays.
“Let’s say its a Thursday afternoon and we’re at the north end of the city and we get a call that someone has illegally dumped something on the south end, well that means we have to take a truck off it’s route, drive it to the other end of the city,” Marr said.
He said this can often take more than an hour and cost more than $300 in operational costs depending on the size of the waste. It costs around $100 an hour to operate a truck.
“So we’ve had piles in the past where it’s been three to five tons in a pile of debris that we have to go clean up. We’ll have to send two to three trucks out there to clean up the pile.” Marr explained.
Currently, there are no limitations to the types of materials or the amount that residents can put out for collection.
Marr said the city is in the process of writing an ordinance that would define illegal dumping by placing limits on the amount and type of waste that can be collected.
Myrtle Beach also approved funding for a two-person solid waste regulatory crew to assist with illegal dumping efforts.
“We don’t currently have a crew that’s designed specifically for illegal dumping activities. We have to pull from our existing resources, which are limited now because of the growth that has been happening and it has a really negative impact on our ability to provide service throughout the week on the time schedule that we have,” Marr said.
Marr hopes the new positions will help decrease the time taken away from regular collection routes.
The department has been working with the police department and code enforcement to crack down on illegal dumping efforts by reviewing surveillance cameras and following up on residents tips.
Marr said in the coming months the city will start a blog to spread awareness about waste collection and is hoping the effort will also assist with proper compliance.
“What we’re trying to do is to make it an awareness campaign more so than an enforcement campaign," he said. “We’re trying to make people aware of what our collection rules are.”
Marr said he hopes the changes to the department will allow the city to be more proactive rather than reactive when tackling its waste issues.
According to the city budget, the new route will cost around $1.2 million and the two-person regulatory crew will cost around $170,000.