SWANSEA, Ill. (KMOV) – More than three thousand residents in the Metro East will soon get a major surprise in the mail. Their sewage rates are about to double.
A contract between St. Clair Township and the Village of Swansea is set to go into effect March 1, but residents are fighting back and calling the deal unfair.
Tuesday night, nearly 100 St. Clair Township residents flooded the Swansea Board of Trustees meeting to confront the board on the new contract.
“Both sides have some valid points, but the tax payers, the residents are the ones paying double,” explained John 'Skip' Kernan, the Highway Commissioner for St. Clair Township and one of the many residents angry about the new contract.
Around 3,300 residents in St. Clair Township rely on Swansea to treat their sewage based solely on where they live. But this new contract now means they will pay 1.3 percent more than the residents of Swansea. In addition, they’ll be charged a $7.34 fee collected by Swansea, but paid to St. Clair Township.
For example, a customer paying $24.66 will now pay $46.92 under the new contract.
The supervisor of St. Clair Township said they were put in a corner.
“They were going to charge whether we agree or not, they were to take over the billing,” Supervisor Dave Barnes explained. “We negotiated for more than five years. We explored every option.”
Residents asked the trustees in Swansea to reopen negotiations, but it was shut down.
“I’m not going to waste any more money on lawyers and fees,” said Trustee Brian Wells.
Despite the ongoing dispute, Barnes told News 4 there is another deal in the works, this time with the City of Belleville. It could affect another 2,000 residents.
“It’s a new agreement,” Barnes said. “All I can say is it’s in negotiations.”
“They need to know what’s going on, there’s no transparency,” said Kernan.
Kernan and the rest of the residents don’t plan to stop fighting. They plan to attend next week’s council meeting in St. Clair to ask for answers.
“Everybody’s pointing fingers and it’s the taxpayers left holding the bag,” Kernan said.