Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 1
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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Reorganization Meeting Sees Disagreement Over New Council President

Dilshanie Perera

Mayor Mildred Trotman had to break two ties during Sunday’s Borough Council reorganization meeting. The first had to do with electing a new Council President after former President Andrew Koontz concluded his term with the Borough, while the second dealt with Council appointments to Borough Committees. Also during the session, Jo Butler and Roger Martindell were sworn in for three-year terms on Council.

Both David Goldfarb and Kevin Wilkes were nominated for the position of Council President, and each received three votes, with Mr. Martindell and Barbara Trelstad aligning themselves with Mr. Wilkes and Ms. Butler and Jenny Crumiller promoting Mr. Goldfarb.

Acknowledging the merits of each candidate, Ms. Trotman broke the tie by appointing Mr. Wilkes as Council President. He accepted the position with a speech citing Woodrow Wilson, urging Council to act in “the right spirit” and to work in a manner promoting “the common interest.”

Mr. Wilkes’s goals are “to advocate for the sustainable prosperity of our commercial sector and the preservation of the social fabric of each of our many historic neighborhoods,” he said, adding that “in these pursuits we share a common interest with Princeton Township and Princeton University. Our fates are inextricably linked. The narrow interest of one of these should not crowd out the common interest of all three. We should plan and invest in our future growth in the right spirit.”

The committee appointments caused some disagreement that led to a second tie breaking vote by the mayor. Mr. Goldfarb suggested that Ms. Crumiller be appointed to the Finance Committee in place of Mr. Wilkes in order to distribute important committee tasks more evenly among members of the body.

Ms. Trotman defended her choices, saying that while “some committees are more visible than others, these would be the best persons to serve [on them] … I picked them for a reason.” Mr. Martindell, Ms. Trelstad, and Mr. Wilkes voted in favor of the appointments, while Ms. Butler, Ms. Crumiller, and Mr. Goldfarb voted against them. Ms. Trotman cast her vote in favor of the appointments to pass the resolution.

In the mayor’s annual address, Ms. Trotman highlighted some of the Borough’s accomplishments and developments in 2010, including holding the tax rate flat for the second year in a row without municipal layoffs, and moving forward on development in town. Working together with area mayors from Princeton Township, Lawrence Township, West Windsor, Plainsboro, and South Brunswick to discuss the effects that the Central New Jersey Route One Corridor would have on the area was another key element of the past year, she said. Talks between the mayors of the two Princetons and the heads of Princeton University were also declared a positive step forward.

“It will come as no surprise that during 2010 a lot of energy was expended discussing assessments that resulted from revaluation,” Ms. Trotman noted, acknowledging the questions that homeowners had and still have. “A Joint Revaluation Study Commission was established to: explore initiatives for a tax relief fund, review state laws as they pertain to property tax revaluation, solicit opinions and data from residents and neighborhood organizations, and report to the governing bodies and taxpayers their findings and recommendations.”

Ms. Trotman said that in the upcoming year: she hopes that the Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission will complete its work in time to put the question on the ballot in November, that the Borough will see the completion of Hulfish North, that discussions will move forward regarding the Arts and Transit Neighborhood, that new sources of funding and grants will be obtained, and that the tax rate will be kept “as low as possible while delivering services in a responsible manner.”

Prior to concluding his term on Borough Council and joining the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Andrew Koontz urged the Borough to continue to care for the municipal parks, for which he has advocated during his seven-year tenure on Council. Praising the late Borough Engineer Chris Budzinski and his staff for their work on rehabilitating Harrison Street Park, Mr. Koontz noted that in the spring, the bridge in the park would be dedicated to Mr. Budzinski’s memory.

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