Friday, April 20, 2018

Horry County councilor's contract with county increases 32 percent in one year

Al Allen, of Horry County Council and Allen Aviation, talks about the unique customers at each of the four county airports at the Conway-Horry County Airport.

Two Horry County councilors have companies that make money off contracts with Horry County, according to their statements of economic interest. And one saw his contract increase by more than 30 percent last year.

Those statements must be filed by March 30 of each year, and cover all elected officials’ sources of income and assets during the previous calendar year as well as the amount of any government contracts they have.

Al Allen, a county councilor since 2007, disclosed $65,625 from Allen Aviation’s contract with the county. Council Chair Mark Lazarus’s waterpark, Wild Water and Wheels, has a $19,500 contract.

Allen’s wife, school board member Shanda Allen, is the president of Allen Aviation. Al Allen is the registered agent and chief pilot. Al Allen's county biography says he started the company in 2000.

In 2016, Allen aviation got $49,550 from the county for mosquito spraying. In 2017, the amount increased 32 percent to $65,625.

From 2014 through 2016, Allen Aviation charged 55 cents per acre for areas sprayed by a single-engine plane and 60 cents per acre for areas sprayed by a twin-engine plane, according to the company’s contract.

But in April of 2017, the rates increased to 75 cents per acre for the single-engine plane and 90 cents per acre for areas sprayed by a twin-engine plane, according to the contract. County records show all the 2017 flights were conducted after the contract rate increase.

Despite the rate increase, Allen Aviation was still the lowest bidder.

Williamsburg Air and Clark Environmental Mosquito Management also bid on the work, and both submitted a higher price per acre than Allen Aviation. Williamsburg Air offered 96 cents per acre for twin-engine and single-engine plane spraying. Clark Environmental would have charged more than a dollar per acre for spraying.

Allen would not talk on the phone, citing spotty cell phone coverage.

In an email, Allen said, “Many factors contribute to a rate increase in this type of service such as insurance cost, fuel cost, along with supply and demand as with any other business.”

The acreage increased as well. In 2016, Allen Aviation sprayed 90,000 acres using only a single-engine plane, according to county records. In 2017, under the increased rates, the company sprayed 92,500 acres, including 12,500 acres with the twin-engine plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration puts restrictions on single-engine planes used for agricultural purposes over "congested" areas, which may account for the twin-engine flight.

Neighboring counties pay a little less for spraying. Charleston county pays Williamsburg Air 88 cents per acre for spraying done from a twin-engine plane, according to Charleston County spokesperson Shawn Smetana.

Williamsburg Air also contracts with Georgetown County for mosquito spraying and charges 77 cents per acre for spraying done with a twin-engine plane, according to Georgetown County spokesperson Jackie Broach.

Original article ➤

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