Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 26
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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Borough Chooses Consolidation Commission Representatives as Municipalities Set Goals

Dilshanie Perera

Princeton Borough has chosen Anton Lahnston, Ryan Lilienthal, and M. Patrick Simon as citizen representatives for the Joint Municipal Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission. Joining them are Mayor Mildred Trotman, Councilman David Goldfarb, and Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi.

Mr. Lahnston is the chair of the Borough’s Traffic and Transportation Committee and a management consultant; Mr. Lilienthal is an immigration lawyer, Zoning Board member, and former Borough Councilman; and Mr. Simon is a director and management consultant at Princeton Consultants.

Longtime Borough resident Alice Small was appointed at last week’s Council meeting as the Borough’s municipal alternate for the commission as well.

Citizens participating on the Township side are Carol Golden, Valerie Hayes, and William Metro, while elected representatives include Mayor Bernie Miller and Deputy Mayor Chad Goerner.

The goal of the study is to analyze the results of either full municipal consolidation or increased shared services, and to determine whether cost savings could be achieved in either scenario. Once the commission has determined what areas they would like to focus on, and what kinds of data they would like to see gathered, a private consultant will be hired to obtain the requested information and evaluate the numbers.

Depending on the findings of the commission, a referendum vote could appear on the November 2011 ballot for citizens of the Borough and Township to decide whether or not to combine forces.

Ms. Trotman announced that representatives would meet on July 1 to determine the commission’s schedule and to begin work as soon as possible.

Asked to explain their interest in participating in the consolidation and joint services study in a manner similar to the citizen appointees to the commission, Mr. Goldfarb and Ms. Trotman elaborated on their own views.

“I participated fairly actively in 1996 as a very interested observer,” Mr. Goldfarb said, referring to the previous consolidation study.

Having voted against consolidation at that time, Mr. Goldfarb said that his primary concerns had to do with maintaining the character and quality of life of the downtown, as well as continuing the conversation the two municipalities engaged in when considering the location of the public library.

“I am strongly in favor of joint services at the lowest possible cost, and I am leaning strongly against consolidation … but could be persuaded otherwise,” Mr. Goldfarb added. “One can’t draw hard and fast conclusions from what happened in 1996. I will be listening very carefully throughout the process.”

Noting that the Township has the lowest tax rate in Mercer County, Mr. Goldfarb emphasized that “I think the Borough’s finances are good, and the Township’s are even slightly better.” He suggested that if half of the Borough’s land were not tax exempt, the municipal finances might show signs of improvement.

Ms. Trotman envisioned the work of the commission to involve “going over the data we are presented, analyzing it, listening to discussions, and making an informed decision.”

“In 1996 I didn’t support consolidation because I wasn’t convinced it would be the best thing for Princeton Borough,” Ms. Trotman said, adding that she would approach the current study “with an open mind.”

During the previous analysis of consolidation, Ms. Trotman pointed out that she didn’t feel that the form the new government would take was adequately addressed. How expenses and revenue would be handled was another area of concern for her.

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