Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 2
 
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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Defeat of the Marriage Equality Act Lamented; Twenty NJ Senators “Betrayed the Constitution”

Rev. Carol S. Haag
Unitarian Universalist Minister
Princeton

Numbers Offered as Evidence That Total Tax Savings Are Not Found Through Consolidation

David W. Blair
Princeton-Kingston Road

Princeton Human Services Commission Sends Thanks to Helpers With Holiday Wish List Drive

Cynthia Mendez
Executive Director

Exorbitant” Cost of Parking in Princeton and Sunday Charges Need to be Addressed

Phyllis Spiegel
Plainsboro


Defeat of the Marriage Equality Act Lamented; Twenty NJ Senators “Betrayed the Constitution”

To the Editor:

We were on the verge of an earthshaking event in the New Jersey State House on Thursday afternoon. Progressive NJ senators took the initiative to lead this state into full expression of the American ideal of equality with the Marriage Equality Act. Loretta Weinberg, Richard Cody, Raymond Lesniak, William Baroni, Nia Gill, Barbara Buono, Teresa Ruiz spoke inspiringly of the opportunity we face to extend true equality in the Garden State. Thank you for your demonstration of courage on behalf of civil equality for ALL!

Each time in the history of this country courageous people have stood up for extending equal rights and privileges based on broader understanding and welcome to ever larger sections of the population: blacks freedom from slavery, women the right to vote, Irish and Jews the right to work, people of color equal access to water fountains and schools, people of differing skin color the right to marry.

The arc of history is long — but it bends toward justice. Extending equal rights of marriage to gays and lesbians is the watershed moment of our time — and 20 New Jersey Senators voted NO!!

In Senate President Dick Cody’s words, “What were they thinking? What are they afraid of?” They failed us! They failed New Jersey! They betrayed the Constitution of the United States!

Rev. Carol S. Haag
Unitarian Universalist Minister
Princeton

Numbers Offered as Evidence That Total Tax Savings Are Not Found Through Consolidation

To the Editor:

The State of New Jersey has authorized a Princeton consolidation study. No surprise there, the State has been urging, one might even say coercing, municipalities to consolidate recently. Princeton municipal officials, both Township and Borough, appear to be enthusiastic about consolidation. Township Mayor Miller was quoted as referring to “… recognizing the benefits and economies that could be found through consolidation”. What economies and whose benefits? Using tax data from the two municipalities over the years 2003 through 2009 I have examined this.

The quantities reported are based on tax dollars raised, not tax rates. First the economies:

Municipal taxes raised for the Township per year over the period 2003 to 2009 inclusive ranged from twenty to twenty five percent of the total tax of the Township. The other parts of the total over that period were County 3028 percent, Schools 4947, Open Space 0.70.6. For the Borough the same figures were Municipal 2424 percent, County 2828, Schools 4847 and Open Space 0.00.2. Thus seeking tax reductions through municipal consolidation means seeking them through only about 2025 percent of the total tax (Township) or 24 percent of the total (Borough). Roughly speaking if consolidation reduces municipal taxes by 10 percent (An unrealistically high number) the savings are only about 2.5 percent of the total tax. However, the average annualized rate of growth of taxes is for the Township: Total 5 percent, Municipal 8.5, County 4. 1, and Schools 4.5. For the Borough the figures are Total 5.8 percent, Municipal 6. 1, County 5.8, and Schools 5.8. Thus the large hypothesized tax saving through consolidation, 2.5 percent, is wiped out in less than one year. These growth rates should be compared with the annual U.S. inflation rate for the years 2003 through 2008, which was from 2.273.85 percent. For 2009 thru November it was -0.62 percent. Municipal, County and State costs do not exist in isolation from national trends although they all did exceed them and this leaves room for improvement. The growth rates are the important quantities: a five percent growth rate yields a fourteen year doubling time, i.e. takes doubled by year 2024. Next, who benefits:

If during the period in question the total taxes raised and the total valuations of the two municipalities had been combined (as if consolidated) the tax rate for Township residents would have been 2.75.3 percent higher and that for Borough residents would have been 6.411.0 percent lower. Over that period the combined tax rate would have grown at an average annualized rate of 4.9 percent. Even the large advantage for the Borough would be wiped out in a little over two years.

Total tax savings are not to be found through consolidation, they are to be found through carefully examining and controlling the factors that drive the rate of growth of taxes. Alternatively, the pain might be shifted by revising the tax code. Both of these approaches will be politically painful and therefore are unlikely.

For the Princetons, municipal consolidation will not affect the serious problem of growth rates, and it will therefore not provide tax relief.

David W. Blair
Princeton-Kingston Road

Princeton Human Services Commission Sends Thanks to Helpers With Holiday Wish List Drive

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Princeton Human Services Commission and Department, we extend a heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the following individuals and organizations/businesses for their generosity during 11th annual Holiday Wish List drive:

Angelo and Carol Auletta; Jim Banks; the Bank of Princeton; Jeanine Barsumian; Emile and Ivonne Clark; Jon and Jenny Crumiller; Tracy Dart; Leslie Dowling and Carlo Momo; Jasper Daniels; Linda Danielson; Laura Encinas; Marita Engshuber; Liz Erickson; Mary Gerard; Joan Gilbert; Girl Scout Troop #71812; Caroline Hancock; David Hvisdock; Claire Jacobus; Jennifer Jang; Keating Johnson; Devon Keefe; Ann Keene; Jay Kelsey and Family; Peter and Barbara Kneski; Diane Landis; Debra Lambo; Liz Lempert and Family; Lance Liverman and Family; Lynn Maher; Anastasia Mann and Family; Cameron Manning; Claudia Martinez; Margaret Marsh; Mason Griffin Pierson, PC; Angella Matheney; Susan McCaskie; Linda Meisel; Debbie Millar; Catherine Millet; Sandy Moskovitz; Tom Murray; Sue Nemeth; Suzanne Nielson; Greg O’Neill; Christy Peacock; Elizabeth Piccard; Lucinda Porter; John and Janet Powell; Princeton Township PBA; Princeton Rotary; Princeton University’s Athletes In Action Program; Mary Agnes Procaccino; Alexandra Radbil; Anne Reeves and her great knitting club; Elizabeth Romanaux; Jean Pratt Rosolino; Ruth Scott; SEIU Local #175; Linda Shaw; Ben Stentz; Tony and Wanda Strong; Sandra Tait; Pat Tanner; Joyce Turner; Dominic and Debra Vigiano; Caron Wendell; KP Weseloh and Family; Aaron Wishnick; Leslie Wishnick; Ross Wishnick; Richard Woodbridge and Ann Yasuhara.

And all of the elves that work to organize, shop and recruit donors: Vikki Caines, Laura Encinas, Sarah Huyck, Liz Lempert, Anastasia Mann, Faith Mrazik, Sue Nemeth, Bob Pastrenak, Leslie Wishnick, and KP Weseloh, thanks a million. I could not have done this without their assistance.

Thanks to the generous participation of these donors and elves, 199 children were adopted and had at least one of their wishes come true. It is indeed wonderful to be a part of a community that provides such a spirit of caring, compassion and support.

Best Wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Cynthia Mendez
Executive Director

Cost of Parking in Princeton and Sunday Charges Need to be Addressed

To the Editor:

When is anyone going to address the exorbitant cost of parking in Princeton? It’s outrageous. Spending a day at the environmental film festival at the library cost a friend of mine $15 at the garage (after two free hours from the library). It’s really outrageous that one cannot just walk around town without spending dollars on parking. Sundays and until 7 p.m. too. It would help business if that were to change. And the Junction station sneakily went up from $4 to $5 for those spots you can never find.

Phyllis Spiegel
Plainsboro

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