A staggering $33.3 million in bonds won’t cause taxes to increase, Myrtle Beach City Council said this week.
The council approved four separate bond-related ordinances — $27.8 million refinancing bonds and a $5.5 million bond to build a new solid waste transfer station.
Mike Shelton, Myrtle Beach’s chief financial officer, said the city’s current transfer station was built in the 1970s and has outlived its 40-year lifespan.
The station, which is located off Mr. Joe White Avenue Extension, is the site where city trucks dump garbage and the garbage is fed into a compactor. Once compacted, the waste is then loaded onto trucks and taken to the Horry County landfill of S.C. 90.
But because of its age, the compactor breaks and has to be repaired, leaving garbage piling up as truck drivers wait for a load.
Because of the backup at the station, City Manager John Pedersen said, the city is forced to pay for overtime and constantly repairing outdated equipment.
Pedersen said the new station will eliminate the need for a compactor.
“It’s actually gravity-fed,” he said of the new system. “The material is put into the transfer station and, basically in essence, pushed off a cliff into the truck that takes it to the landfill.”
The new station will also have a new convenience center similar to the current one so residents can bring waste and recyclables as well as a composting site for yard waste.
“We’ve outgrown it. It’s time for something larger and more efficient,” councilman Gregg Smith said. “This one won’t use as much mechanical stuff so gravity is not going to fail us, hopefully.”
Shelton said the site may also make money for the city if other municipalities use it for their waste.
Pedersen has said the new transfer station should be financed with bonds as opposed to a “pay as you go” method since the station should have a 40-year lifespan. Based on the past, he said, half of the people living here today won’t be here in 20 years as the overall city population is expected to grow by 12,000.
“If you don’t (offer bonds), then you have today’s residents paying for a facility they may not use, and you also provide a free ride for all those residents that are not here yet,” he said.
Shelton said the payment for the $5.5 million bond debt should be around $289,000 annually until it is paid off in 20 years at a 2% interest rate.
The transfer station bonds and the $27.8 million refinancing bonds are expected to be offered for sale in the next few months.
The $27.8 million refinancing bonds covers a $14.5 million debt issued in the early 2000s to pay for recreation facilities and stormwater needs. It also covers a $7.2 million debt from 2008 and 2015 used for recreation improvements and renovations at Crabtree Gymnasium.
The final bond-related ordinance includes the $6.1 million debt that was used for a new HVAC system at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Shelton said the refinancing will not change the due date for any of the bonds, which range from 2028 to 2032. And, he said, the city is taking advantage of lower interest rates with the refinancing leveling the city more than $100,000 savings annually.
“So, the savings is a savings that is real and is a matter of reductions of interest rates for the remaining terms of those bonds,” Shelton said Tuesday.