Future of Charleston County’s plan to truck recyclables to Horry County uncertain

Charleston County has stopped using its Romney Street recycling center, at least for now. Earlier this month it began trucking recyclables to Horry County, but it could use its own center again if the Horry County deal falls apart.

Charleston County has been trucking its recyclables to Horry County for processing for about a month, but the arrangement is in trouble.

The county earlier this month signed a contract with the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, agreeing to truck its recyclables there for about two years while the county builds a new recycling center on the Palmetto Commerce Parkway in North Charleston.

But Horry County Council on Tuesday voted against approving a budget amendment that would allow the arrangement to move forward. The Tuesday vote was the second of three approvals required by Council.

It remains unclear if the deal has suffered a fatal blow, or if it is the temporary victim of internal Horry County politics.

Charleston County Councilwoman Colleen Condon, chairwoman of the solid waste committee, said representatives of the Horry County Solid Waste Authority clearly thought they could enter into a contract with Charleston County before getting budget approval from County Council. But, she said, those issues need to be sorted out by Horry County officials.

“We hope Horry County Council reconsiders,” she said. “It was a win-win.” But if it doesn’t, Charleston County will re-open its old Romney Street facility and process recyclables there.

Horry County Councilman Harold Worley said he can’t be certain of the outcome. “But I do not think this is dead.”

At the meeting, some Council members said they were concerned that the contract was rushed and they didn’t have time to consider its possible ramifications. Charleston County didn’t approach Horry County until late May, they said.

Worley said he thinks the vote represents a power struggle between the authority and Council. “I think it was a political maneuver by a few Council members to send a message to the Solid Waste Authority.”

The vote was 7-4 in favor of the budget amendment, he said. But a budget change would require nine votes. He thinks the issues will be worked out before the next County Council meeting, and that the amendment ultimately will pass.

Johnny Vaught, one of the members who voted against it, said the vote had nothing to do with the content of the contract. “The problem is the dealings between the Horry County Solid Waste Authority and County Council,” he said. He also said the vote could be overturned at the next meeting. “That’s feasible,” he said.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknch.