Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 26
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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Borough Council Okays $24.7 Million Budget, Looks Ahead to 2011

Dilshanie Perera

With a unanimous vote, Borough Council approved its 2010 municipal budget, which is valued at $24,716,958. Overall, $750,000 had to be cut from previous drafts of the current budget in order to meet the goals of maintaining the same spending level as last year and keeping the municipal tax rate flat.

No new revenues combined with a loss of $278,000 in state aid proved challenging for recouping the difference, but utility reductions, an overall shrinking of departmental budgets in the Borough by $44,000, and a reduction in salary and wages of $241,000 were factors in the meeting of the stated goals.

Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi said that “it is important for the public to understand the amount of time the joint finance committee spent” on reducing the jointly funded Borough-Township agencies’ budgets, resulting in $166,000 savings for the Borough. “It would have been a very difficult task to take that amount out of other operations,” he emphasized.

Cautioning Council members, Mr. Bruschi noted that the 2010 budget would have “very little flexibility” in terms of spending, and would “require more extensive monitoring to ensure that no over-expenditures occur.” In November, Council will likely review the budget and engage in modifications in the event of unanticipated expenses.

As for next year’s budgeting process, Mr. Bruschi said that the Borough should plan for further reductions in state aid, remarking that the reduced contribution from the state government “is going to be a reality for the next couple of years.”

Prioritizing services that are essential to Borough operations and character should happen as soon as possible, Mr. Bruschi added. “This topic is ripe for a meeting. What is important to you, and what is important to the residents of this community? This is what we should be taking on over the next few months,” he said to Council.

New joint municipal operations are another avenue for cost savings, according to Mr. Bruschi.

Since all four of the Borough’s union contracts will expire at the end of this year, the municipality has entered into negotiations with each of them. “We are very close on several of them to wrapping things up,” Mr. Bruschi disclosed, adding that finalizing the bargaining agreements would be a priority to consider when looking ahead to 2011.

As for the overall budget for the upcoming year, Borough staff and the Finance Committee are estimating that it would necessitate a four percent tax increase if no other sources of revenue were obtained and if no cuts were made. “We need to keep honing these numbers and hope that some of the other costs flatline,” Mr. Bruschi said. “That would help.”

Councilman David Goldfarb, who also sits on the Borough’s Finance Committee, assured the elected officials that they would “be working very hard on appropriations and the proposed tax increase” when considering the 2011 budget.

Both Roger Martindell and Barbara Trelstad of Council inquired about implementing the environmental goals advocated by Sustainable Princeton. Borough Engineer Chris Budzinski reported that the new energy-efficient lamps installed in the municipal garage cost $85,000, but that the Borough would see savings within three years.

Mr. Goldfarb added that as a result of the new fixtures, the Borough would be “saving more than $25,000 on utilities in the garage alone.”

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