Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 22
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
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Commission Votes For Consolidation Into Single Entity

Anne Levin

In a 9-1 vote at a meeting Wednesday, May 25, the Princeton Consolidation and Shared Services Commission voted to recommend that Princeton Borough and Princeton Township be consolidated into a single entity that would be known as Princeton. A borough form of government with an elected mayor and six at-large council members holding staggered terms would be put in place, should voters approve consolidation in November.

“We really do have a fabulous opportunity in front of us in Princeton,” said Anton Lahnston, who is chairman of the commission. “We have an opportunity to have better governments with one government instead of two.”

The “no” vote came from Borough Councilman and mayoral candidate David Goldfarb, who expressed concerns about the wording of the recommendation and said he would prefer to see both consolidation and the option for shared services on the ballot.

The next step in the process is for Borough Council and the Township Committee to decide whether to put the issue of on the ballot. Should voters approve the question, consolidation would not be put into place until 2012.

This month, the commission will submit its draft report to the State of New Jersey, and ask for funding for transition costs that would be incurred by consolidation. These costs are currently estimated at $1.3 million but can change, it was stressed at the meeting. Mark Pfeiffer, New Jersey’s deputy director of Local Government Services, advised the commission to make that request as soon as possible, though there is no guarantee that the state will provide the funding.

The commission has estimated that consolidation could save $3.1 million in staff costs and redundancies. The average Borough tax bill of $3,222 would be $591 less, while the average Township tax bill of $3,596 would be $416 less.

Several citizens spoke at the meeting. “I am very troubled at the idea of consolidation,” said Borough resident Anne Neumann. The differences between the “walking culture” of the Borough and the “car culture” of the Township are significant, she said, “I would ask the commission to consider putting a referendum that allows people to vote either for consolidation or shared services.”

The next meeting of the Consolidation Council will be Wednesday, June 8 at 5 p.m. in Borough Hall.

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