Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 1
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
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Miller, Goerner Are New Township Leaders

Ellen Gilbert

The Township Committee elected Bernie Miller and Chad Goerner as Township Mayor and Deputy Mayor at its reorganization meeting Sunday in the Township municipal building.

Members of incoming officers’ families were a strong presence at the midday meeting, along with national, state, and local officials. Mayor Miller acknowledged Representative Rush Holt (D-12), State Senator Shirley Turner, and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, in the audience, along with several former Township committee members. In her invocation, Princeton University’s Dean of Religious Life Reverend Alison L. Boden spoke of “the privilege that is to serve, to lead, and to be in community with one another,” and asked that Princeton be made “a place of grace.”

In his nomination of Mr. Miller for mayor, committeeman Lance Liverman noted that “all the ‘t’s would be crossed and all the ‘i’s would dotted” under Mr. Miller’s administration. Mr. Miller was sworn in twice, first for a new three-year term on the committee, and later, after his election as mayor. His son, Simon, administered the oath both times.

New Township Committee member Sue Nemeth nominated 12-year Township resident Chad Goerner as Deputy Mayor, lauding his work in creating the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, his efforts to limit oversized truck traffic on Route 206, and his advocacy of full municipal consolidation. Mr. Goerner was sworn in by Township attorney Ed Schmierer.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Miller paid tribute to past and present committee members and staff, reviewed last year’s accomplishments, and identified the “major challenge” the Township faces in the coming year: “How we as a community deal with the financial stresses brought about by the economic and political environment that we live in.”

The approaches he suggested include dealing with a new, tighter municipal cap “imposed by state legislatures because they could not bring themselves to deal with the need for broad-based tax reform in our state. The cap encourages municipalities to draw down their financial reserves in order to maintain service levels and still stay within the cap.”

The presence of tax-exempt institutions in the community in dealing with current financial challenges, observed Mr. Miller, is “both good and bad” in that they provide employment, while also challenging “the fundamental fairness of our taxation system as they do not pay property taxes on their extensive holdings.” Mr. Miller said that he looked forward to working with the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee in the coming year to develop metrics that will establish these institutions’ “fair share of the cost of the infrastructure and services that we provide for their use and benefit.”

Borough-Township consolidation completed Mr. Miller’s list. Describing the savings to be accrued by eliminating the need for “two administrations, two police departments, two public works departments, and two sets of elected officials,” he noted that his charge as a young project administrator was “to work himself out of a job.” Extending a “challenge to our friends on Princeton Borough Council,” Mr. Miller suggested that they work together in 2009 to achieve full municipal consolidation. “If, as I believe, the savings are significant, I for one would welcome the opportunity to work myself out of my job on Princeton Township Committee through full municipal consolidation.”

A fire station reception followed the reorganization meeting. The next Township Committee Meeting will be on Monday, January 12, at 7 p.m.

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