LINWOOD — City Council returned three incumbents to the dais at its annual reorganization meeting Friday, Jan. 5.

Councilmen Ralph Paolone of Ward 2 and Eric Ford of Ward 1 were sworn in for three-year terms, and Darren Matik was sworn in for another four-year term as councilman at large.

In this traditional Republican stronghold, only Ford faced a challenger in the election — Democrat Michael Sommers, who was seeking a seat on council.

Mayor Rick DePamphilis delivered his state of the city address to the crowd assembled, noting the work of city employees contributing to another successful year for the city.

While the tax collection rate for the city was above 96 percent for 2017, tax appeals were significant once again, he said.

“Diane Hesley, our tax assessor, had another very busy year. There were 307 county-level tax appeals filed in Linwood in 2017, and the total lost revenue was $14,867,200. This is the third straight year of considerable value lost to tax appeals,” DePamphilis said.

The mayor commended the Linwood Board of Education and former President Richard Sless for a smooth transition in 2017 from an appointed to an elected school board. He thanked Sless and board member Lynn Gibson, both of whom finished their long tenure on the board Dec. 31 after choosing not to run for election to their seats. He also welcomed the new School Superintendent Brian Pruitt, a Linwood resident.

DePamphilis said new Planning Board President Roger Steedle is close to completing a master plan review of Linwood and sending it to council for approval.

He lauded the environmental commission, which secured a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey grant and $15,000 from Atlantic City Electric for the living shoreline project along  Patcong Creek.

“The 10th annual Patcong Creek cleanup was expanded to include Egg Harbor Township and Somers Point, and we won bronze certification from Sustainable Jersey. They also assisted the city in gaining Blue Acres funding for waterfront properties and in obtaining increased discounts for residents flood insurance,” said the mayor.

DePamphilis closed on an optimistic note.

“2017 was another in a sequence of very challenging years. However, I believe that it was also the first of a new sequence, one in which the Atlantic County and the Atlantic City economy begins to rebound," he said.

"New jobs will provide the spark for increased real estate sales, and new families will be moving into old neighborhoods. Linwood will be, once again, the favorite destination.”

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