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Township has explaining to do

St. Clair Township residents have an additional concern besides higher sewer rates: the millions of dollars the township has collected in the name of sewers.

There’s the $700,000 that was set aside to pay Swansea at the end of sewer contract negotiations — and was never paid. And the 2014-2015 township sewer budget projects a $4.21 million balance on hand on March 31, more than $1 million higher than in 2011-2012. It’s not clear if the $700,000 is part of that or in addition.

What’s clear is that residents already have paid excess sewer fees, and now they are being asked to pay again. A legitimate question: Why hold onto so much money? Even though the new contract with Swansea doesn’t include a payment to the village, that $700,000 could have been used to help hold down township residents’ sewer rates or line maintenance fees. Or the township could refund the money.

Particularly perplexing is Township Supervisor Dave Barnes’ comment that the $700,000 “may have been misappropriated.”

Instead of answers, township residents have more questions. Barnes & Co. have a lot of explaining to do.