Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 29
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
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Township OKs Smallest Tax Increase in Four Years

Ellen Gilbert

The Princeton Township Committee unanimously approved the Township’s 2008 budget at its Monday evening meeting.

In what was largely a replay of their presentation at the Committee’s June 11 meeting, Chief Financial Officer Kathryn Monzo and Township Administrator Jim Pascale led Committee members and observers through a slide show of budget highlights (see Princeton Township taxpayers now face the smallest tax increase in four years: five cents per $100 of the assessed value of their homes.

The average Township tax bill was cited as $15,394, which is divided among the Princeton Regional School system ($7,330), Mercer County ($4,269), and the Township ($3,795).

Ms. Monzo and Mr. Pascale reiterated the fact that salaries comprise the lion’s share of the budget. The biggest changes in salary this year include a four percent salary increase for police department employees, who are unionized, and a three percent increase for all other non-union employees.

After salaries, major portions of the budget are slated for capital investments and infrastructure improvements (20 percent); health, housing, and human services (14 percent); statutory requirements such as Social Security and health benefits (11 percent); and public safety, including police and fire department costs (18 percent).

Last year’s budget resulted in a $5,424,005 surplus, of which $3 million will be used toward the 2008 budget. Ms. Monzo described this as “a healthy sign,” and noted that the reserve amounts are becoming increasingly important.

Both Ms. Monzo and Mr. Pasacale, along with Mayor Phyllis Marchand and Committee member Chad Goerner, acknowledged the work of the five-member Citizens’ Finance Committee, including Diantha Johnson Allenby, Vzibi Eires, Jason Peterson, Scott Sillars, and John Wynne, Jr., who all participated in preparation of this year’s budget.

“It’s enlightening to work with local residents,” said Ms. Monzo, who described a four-page “budget message” as the “brainchild” of the committee. “It’s chock full of wonderful details about Princeton Township, and will be included in the mailing of tax bills, and put on the Township’s website,” she said.

An amendment to the budget passed by the Committee was described by Ms. Monzo as a “minor” ($3,600) addition in state aid, which did “not change the bottom line.”

The Committee also approved a resolution for “self examination,” which calls for an evaluation of the budget every three years and is, according to Mayor Marchand, a reflection of the Township’s fiscal soundness.

Ms. Marchand noted that the due date for taxes, April 15, is slightly later than usual, and thus reflects a loss in revenue for the Township.

In other business Monday evening, the Committee approved a continuation of the Deer Management Program with a 2008-2009 agreement with United Bow Hunters of New Jersey. Committee member Bernard Miller’s proposed amendment to limit hunting to the hours immediately before and after sunrise and sunset did not carry, and he voted against the agreement. Last year hunters removed 15 deer from Township lands, and Ms. Marchand expressed the hope that they might “double” that amount this year.

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