Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 27
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
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Two Council Members Dissent as Borough Introduces Budget

Dilshanie Perera

The new $25.1 million budget, which includes a five-cent (or five percent) increase in the tax rate, was introduced by Borough Council despite disagreement last Tuesday. Council members Roger Martindell and Barbara Trelstad voted against the introduction, citing that more work still had to be done. Voting in favor were council members David Goldfarb, Margaret Karcher, Andrew Koontz, and Kevin Wilkes.

After Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi reported on the proposed plan, Mr. Goldfarb, who also chairs the Borough’s Finance Committee, recommended a few changes to the original document, which included a decrease from a rate of six cents to five cents. He reported that $63,000 would not be provided by state aid this year.

Citing the $1.8 million that Princeton Township owes the Borough, Mr. Goldfarb recommended that the monies be used as surplus for capital projects.

Mr. Martindell opposed the introduction of a budget tax increase in a time of recession, stating that the “taxpayer is being asked to pay five percent for the municipal budget, which is in excess of the amount of inflation.” Adding that the budget review process has been inadequate, he called for a closer inspection of Borough departments and its financial future.

Mr. Martindell underscored the rising cost of fuel, shared services between the Borough and Township, the contributions by the University, and the question of whether or not the $1.8 million would be paid by the Township.

Ms. Trelstad echoed Mr. Martindell’s sentiments, expressing concern that “retired members of the community are leaving because they can no longer afford to live here” and regretting that “a discussion about consolidating services with the Township” has not happened yet.

Both Mr. Goldfarb and Ms. Karcher cautioned against borrowing from the surplus. “Artifically deflating the tax budget rate” by “taking money out of the surplus” would lead to budget problems in future years, Ms. Karcher noted while endorsing the 5-cent increase.

Princeton University’s Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristin Appleget noted that there is room in the University’s plan for a contribution to the Borough’s budget, and asked for a future discussion about major issues.

The public hearing for the budget will take place at 7:30 p.m. on July 22 in Borough Hall.

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