WINNSBORO — Calling the S.C. Association of Counties position that the Business Freedom to Choose Act would result in out-of-state waste being disposed in South Carolina a “red herring,” Sen. Creighton Coleman argued in support of the bill H.3290 at Monday’s county council meeting.
Council granted Coleman up to a half hour to present his position. Coleman gave a portion of that time to Otis Rawl, president and CEO of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce Otis Rawl.
According to Coleman, citizens need to consider the information presented to them by the S.C. Association of Counties.
“The Association of Counties gets their money from the counties and that is what their job is, to look out for the counties interest. All 46 counties pay a fund to get into the association for counties. So that’s what they are doing, what Horry County wants them to do,” Coleman said.
Coleman took issue with the argument that the bill erodes home rule, saying the home rule was granted to counties by the state but that the privilege of home rule is superseded by state law.
“This bill is not about out of state waste. It is about business finding the best economic way to dispose of waste in a DHEC certified way,” he said.
Coleman said the business community is for the legislation and provided the audience with copies of amendments to the legislation as well as a letter from the S.C. Business Roundtable to Sen. John Courson.
That letter stated that in the opinion of the round table the flow control ordinances were inconsistent with state law. The letter mentioned “the business community has no problem with local governments being in the waste disposal business as long as they are willing to compete against the private sector on an equal playing field.”
That position was echoed by Rawl, one of the authors of the letter.
“Our position is for people to keep government out of things business does well and this is one thing businesses do well,” Rawl said. “Let us choose just as you choose where you buy your gas or groceries.”
After the meeting, Council Chairman David Ferguson said he was considering having Coleman and S.C. Association of Counties representatives back to debate the issue before the public. Ferguson said all 46 counties, including the three represented in Coleman’s district, oppose the bill so he did not understand how Coleman could be such an ardent supporter of it and still represent his constituency.
In other business, Interim County Administrator Milton Pope reported that the update on purchasing and developing property for use as a mini park was deferred to the Sept. 23 county council meeting. The county is waiting for more information about potential land that would be donated for the project.
During County Council time:
— County Council will hold a special work session on recreation at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 in council chambers. Any votes on recreation and county council will be on Sept. 23. Ferguson asked all council members to bring what has been proposed for their district’s use of the $500,000 allocated in a recent bond initiative.
Council will discuss proposals and the manner in which recreation projects will be selected or approved for each district. The mechanism used to determine how a district spends its funds, the entire council or be left to the discretion of a single council member, also will be discussed.
Pope requested some type of report be prepared as a packet of information for distribution to the public concerning recreation.
— Ferguson clarified that Local Option Sales Tax will not be on the Sept. 23 agenda but will instead be discussed at a called meeting of council. As soon as a meeting place is confirmed, he said council will release the time and date of the meeting.
— Councilman Kamau Marcharia requested more information about cost analysis and figures and Pope assured him he would have that information by the Sept. 18 work session so he could make his case for recreation spending in District 4. Pope also said he would have a response Sept. 18 from the County CFO and County Attorney to Marcharia’s questions about budget money in 2004-05 being prioritized and then moved to the county general fund when the special purpose district of the recreation commission was dissolved.
— Councilwoman Carolyn Robinson continued her criticism of the $500,000 per district spending plan with no general overall county plan for spending $3.5 million. She raised issues of fire protection and EMS response times to Lake Wateree and wondered if some of the recreation funds could better have been spent to augment those services.
— Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinely objected to what she termed a continued disrespectful tone from comments directed from the public toward Ferguson. She mentioned a 7 percent decrease the council helped bring about in this year’s budget and said she is always available to speak with constituents.
“It behooves us all to do that,” she said. Kinely noted she spoke with Lori Schaffer and Davis Anderson about ideas such as a joint effort with her and David Brown to provide a genealogy society building with part of their recreation funds.
— Councilman Dwayne Perry recommended the next county council meeting be held in a facility the size of the Magnet School gym because it held the crowd of nearly 200 people who attended.
— Pope said the county was reimbursed by former county administrator Phil Hinely for expenses related to an apology letter that ran in local papers as part of disciplinary action against Hinely.