Ticked off with township taxes, Swansea looks to leave St. Clair
The village of Swansea says it's given enough to St. Clair Township. Now it wants out.
Members of the southern Illinois village's board are in the process of drafting a letter they plan to send to Gov. Bruce Rauner and other politicians and state leaders seeking help with legally seceding from the township to escape rising infrastructure taxes.
“We have absolutely had enough of this,” Village Trustee Brian Wells told the Metro East Sun. “The agreement we have with St. Clair is totally obsolete and for years now we haven’t gotten anything back in return from it.”
Wells said the decision to act came after board members noticed major construction work being done in several nearby incorporated areas while roads in Swansea continue to deteriorate.
“We spent $517,000 last year in funding that we sent to the township,” he said. “It’s not right for us to continue to subsidize other subdivisions while our streets crumble to nothing. Here in Swansea, we work to not have to raise taxes, so we could really use all that money as a way of rebuilding our roads.”
Wells said all six Swansea trustees have agreed to sign off on the letter, as has Mayor Michael Leopold.
State lawmakers recently passed a law paving the way for townships to consolidate into overlapping municipalities. Wells hopes that they will now expand that law.
“Right now, we would be satisfied just getting out of (the) road district part of the agreement, just so we’re able to free up those funds for use here in Swansea,” he said. “The commissioner in St. Clair has said he will do whatever the law compels him to do, so we’re working hard to get that part done. They have all these beautiful roads while we’re struggling to keep our heads above water.”
The Illinois News Network recently estimated that the average Swansea homeowner pays nearly $70 per year to the township district for road maintenance outside the village.
Wells is joined on the Swansea board by Brian McGuire, Matt Lanter, Richard “Rocky” McDonald, Marilyn Neumeyer, Stephen Pulley and Treasurer John Walter.