HAMMONTON – Hammonton Town Council approved the town budget at its monthly meeting on May 18 at Town Hall.
The $12,250,096.49 budget was approved by the mayor and all councilmen except for Steve Furgione, who spoke out against the budget in the April meeting.
The Republican councilman was hoping that the budget would include a portion reserved to replenish the water and sewer department’s budget, which has been used by the council in recent years to overcome shortfalls.
“I really think we need to focus on the utility fund,” Furgione said after Monday’s meeting. “I think any available municipal money should go into that fund. We need to help out the taxpayers, our water and sewer users especially, and I think that’s the way we should do it.”
The budget comes with a 3.9 tax increase, and is $361,000 more than last year’s total.
Council’s focus after approving the budget was on several road projects that currently are under way or planned in the near future.
The Pratt, Packard, Grape and Second street project, which was started last year, could be completed by next week. Pratt Street is supposed to get a base coat of asphalt this week, followed by Grape Street.
“I know it is long and hard for the residents of those streets, and we appreciate them being patient and understanding,” Councilman Sam Rodio said. “There was a lot of work done there and I believe for the next 30 years, people will enjoy it. It was a very well-done project.”
Council approved to go to bid once again to take a look at the sewer pipes under Valley Avenue. In previous meetings, council spoke about the necessity of studying the infrastructure below the roadway that is decades old. Council approved the bid process for companies to film the sewer pipe and have it cleaned.
Council also approved a proposal of a design at a cost of $21,500 that coincides with the $190,000 the town received from the state Department of Transportation to improve the roadway on 14th Street from 2nd Road to the town border with Folsom. The project is expected to be completed sometime in August or September.
A first reading of a bond ordinance to improve sections of several streets in town also took place.
“With the winters that we have had, we had some damaged infrastructure,” Rodio said. “It’s a good thing to get some of these bad spots completed and upgraded without having to spend millions of dollars.”
Town council also:
• Approved the hiring of a new full-time police officer. The department had two officers retire this year. Council approved the hiring of John Amendolia, who is expected to start on June 2.
• Authorized National Night Out and fireworks for Aug. 7.
• Approved a contract to lease vehicles and equipment for the police department not exceeding $95,000.
The next Town Council meeting is set for 7 p.m. on June 22 at Town Hall.