SWEDESBORO– — The Swedesboro Council adopted its 2016 municipal budget at their meeting on April 18 that will mean a tax increase for homeowners. The budget was accepted unanimously after a public hearing.
Homes that are assessed at Swedesboro’s average of just over $171,000 will see their tax rate rise by 3.6 cents per $100 of their home’s value. It will add up to about $56 a year for each residence, according to Swedesboro Mayor Tom Fromm.
“It only increased from the amounts we had to pay for pensions and health care,” Fromm commented. “We did the best we could with it.”
Municipal Clerk Tanya Goodwin reminded those in attendance at the meeting that a public hearing is required before a budget can be adopted.
At the beginning of the meeting, Fromm acknowledged the death of local homeless man Sylvester Combs in early April. Combs was found beaten to death in a trailer at an abandoned business after he had been missing for several days.
Combs was a popular figure in the community, and Swedesboro townspeople raised money to help pay for his funeral. “I’m confident that there’s a thorough investigation going on over what took place,” observed Fromm. “Swedesboro did what Swedesboro people do, donating money to defray costs of the funeral. I’m very proud of them.”
Town residents have also been raising money to add to the reward being offered for information on Combs’ murder. Fromm noted that Swedesboro would be adding $2,500 to that total. Councilmember Joanna Gahrs added that about 40 people attended a memorial for Combs in April.
Fromm reminded residents if they had any information that might help in the investigation, to contact the Woolwich Police Department or the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office at tips.co.gloucester.nj.us.
Elsewhere, Council adopted a resolution that would authorize hazard mitigation plans for four New Jersey counties. And they approved a capital ordinance that would allow Swedesboro to get funding for town projects at better rates.
Fromm explained that Swedesboro had to get a credit rating from Standard & Poor financial services, and received a good AA-.
In fire department news, Councilmember Mary Alice O’Blennis reported that she and Gahrs had met with Woolwich Fire Company Chief Ed Barber about the budget for the fire department. Deputy Chief Dave Valichka also reported that younger firemen have now completed boater safety courses.
Valichka noted that there had been a few recent brushfires in the area due to a lack of rainfall, and he added that firemen were still checking local abandoned properties for potential hazards.
For Garbage and Recycling, Councilmember George Weeks reported that 203 tons of trash had been collected so far in 2016, with costs averaging over $22,000 per month.
In Economic Development, Councilmember Diane Hale announced that Wagger’s Pet Parlor held its grand opening in early April, and a new coffee shop is hoping to open by May 15.
Hale noted that the town’s Jazzfest series had been successful, and this year’s Dancing in the Streets lineup was being finalized.
Hale mentioned that she and Gahrs were still working on the program that would put banners on poles for veteran Swedesboro residents who had died in wars. The Councilmember hoped to reach 15 veterans with complete rank and service records.
And Council approved decorations being placed around town as part of the American Cancer Society’s Paint the Town Purple events supporting cancer research.
This year’s Relay For Life event will take place at Clearview High School on June 10 and 11 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.