Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 16
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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Township Committee Approves Municipal Budget of $36,879,152

Ellen Gilbert

The Princeton Township Committee unanimously approved a resolution to introduce the 2009 municipal budget at its Monday evening meeting. A public hearing on the budget, which, at $36,879,152.43 amounts to a 3.5 percent increase over last year’s, will be held Monday, May 18. Under the proposed budget, the tax increase for the average Township home assessed at $434,108 translates into a $139.35 increase.

Township Administrator Jim Pascale and Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Monzo gave a brief overview of the proposed budget, noting that the proportional allocations of the budget do not, for the most part, change from year to year. The school district receives the lion’s share, at 47 percent. Other municipal services include Capital Investment (19 percent); Public Safety (16 percent); Sewer (10 percent); Public Works/Utilities/Buildings (9 percent); Administration/Finance/Court (7 percent); Grants (6 percent), Parks and Recreation (4 percent), and Land Use (4 percent).

The proposed tax increase, Ms. Monzo noted, is the smallest in seven years, and the lowest percentage rate increase in nine years. This is, she observed, “most suitable for these difficult economic times.” This “barebones” budget represents departments maintaining operating expenses at last year’s level, or reducing them by five percent.

According to Ms. Monzo, the budget comes in at $426,949 under the state four percent levy cap limit, but still provides adequate reserve funds to ensure the Township’s ability to pay future obligations, and to maintain the Township’s AAA bond rating. “Major changes” that figured into the preparation of this year’s budget included a $77,000 loss of state aid; a $130,000 reduction in investment interest; additional bonding reflecting a $200,000 increase in debt service; and the Township’s decision not to waive the state-mandated pension obligation. With the modest income accrued through various departmental fees, a nominal amount of state aid, and the need to maintain reserves for debt service, “we really are dependent on local taxes,” said Ms. Monzo.

The Township’s website will include an outline of the budget within the next few days, and booklets providing more detailed explanations will be available on a borrowing-only basis at the Township Clerk’s office and at the public library. It is also expected that, as they did last year, the Citizens’ Finance Committee will produce an explanatory flier for mailing to Township residents.

In his report at Monday evening’s meeting Mayor Bernie Miller announced a joint proclamation, issued by the Borough and the Township, honoring the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of Princeton’s public schools, and thanking the Princeton Education Foundation (PEF) for their support.

The state’s perspective on full municipal consolidation will be the subject of a joint meeting of the Princeton Borough Council and Township committee at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 27, at the Township Municipal building.

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