Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 4
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
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Mayors Seek Volunteers for Joint Consolidation Commission Planning

Dilshanie Perera

The next step in analyzing municipal consolidation involves the formation of a Joint Consolidation Commission, a ten-member group that will include elected officials from the governing bodies of the Borough and Township, as well as local citizens. The Mayors are currently seeking applications for resident volunteers to serve on the Commission.

With approvals of the governing bodies and the Local Finance Board secured, the Commission will take a look at the possibility of sharing services — for example, the police departments or public works — as well as the full consolidation of both municipalities.

“It will be a pretty active schedule between the time the Commission is organized and when it presents its findings and recommendations,” Township Mayor Bernie Miller said, anticipating that the body would meet “at least once a week.”

Mr. Miller reported that he and Deputy Mayor Chad Goerner would be the elected members from the Township Committee participating in the Commission, while Borough Mayor Mildred Trotman noted that she was still finalizing her decision as to the two Council members she would select. She added that Borough procedures prevent her from sitting on the commission as a deciding member, but that she expects to be apprised of the body’s progress.

The proposed trajectory involves selecting the members of the Commission by March 1, having the Commission choose the consultant or consultants to do the formal consolidation study by July 1, with findings and a final report due by December 31. A report from the Commission to both governing bodies is expected by March 31, 2011.

If full municipal consolidation is recommended by the Commission, and if the governing bodies accept that verdict, the issue could be taken up as a referendum question on the ballot in November 2011.

Both mayors expect the pace of work done by the Consolidation Commission to be intense. A key factor in choosing the citizen-volunteers is that “they have to be available. A significant time commitment is involved in this, and we’re looking for individuals who can bring some background and knowledge as residents of the community in managing the consolidation study process,” Mr. Miller said.

Determining what key issues and factors to analyze and what kinds of data to gather will likely be the first steps taken by the Commission, though Ms. Trotman said it might be “too soon to know that.” The study will operate according to the Local Option Municipal Consolidation statute, passed in 2007 by the New Jersey State Legislature.

Ms. Trotman noted that while “most of my concerns have been addressed” regarding the municipalities joining forces, “I do continue to not support consolidation 100 percent.” Her main questions revolve around the nature of governance and equal representation between the two municipalities.

For now, the mayors seek volunteers interested in charting the course for the consolidation study, and analyzing data and public opinion.

“This is a real opportunity for residents in both communities to play an important role in shaping the future of Princeton,” Mr. Miller said.

Applications are due Friday, January 29. Residents of the Borough or the Township interested in participating in the Joint Consolidation Commission should submit a statement of interest and their qualifications to the Clerk of their respective municipality: Borough Clerk, Princeton Borough, 1 Monument Drive, Princeton, N.J. 08540; or Township Clerk, Princeton Township, 400 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540. Call (609) 924-3118 (Borough) or (609) 924-5704 (Township) for more information.

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