Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 10
 
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
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Council Eyes 2008 Municipal Budget

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Borough Council could be faced with legislating significant cuts in future operating budgets, according to a municipal staff report delivered to the governing body Tuesday, previewing the 2008 budget cycle.

Facing a state mandated four percent cap on the municipal tax levy, a $300,000 decrease in 2007 construction code fees as compared to the previous year, and roughly a $100,000 cut in state aid, the Borough administrator’s office this week, in offering an early draft of a $25 million municipal operating budget, indicated that alternate revenue sources were key to compiling this year’s budget, as well as those in future years.

“You can expect a budget soon,” said Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi, “but we have some pretty big decisions to make.”

Mr. Bruschi, who was slated to deliver his report to Council Tuesday night after Town Topics went to press, referred to a “multi-year challenge” in which Council would find immediate solutions for this year and identify new revenue streams in coming years. This year’s draft budget anticipates all debt payments and other funding obligations for the Borough, and indicates across-the-board freezes for municipal departmental funding “with few exceptions. The Borough may have to reconsider departmental expenses come the introduction of a formal budget, slated for later this spring.

Borough Hall is anticipating an additional $91,000 from Princeton University. The University is in the final year of a three-year, $1 million base per-year agreement with the Borough that increases each year by the percentage increase in the approved Borough tax rate. That number increases each time a new tax-exempt building is constructed and occupied in the Borough.

Mr. Bruschi’s report also anticipates more parking revenue in 2008, along with increases in sewer and construction fees.

The current 4.4 percent draft budget hike could have a current tax impact of 6.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value. “Our original look ahead budget was clear that we could accomplish meeting the state goals as we understood them at the time,” Mr. Bruschi’s report reads.

Add-ons to the tax rate, including state-required increases in pensions and insurance, the creation of a capital improvement fund, and debt service increases, are all factored into the draft budget. The Borough’s anticipated debt service fund allotment is expected decrease this year, Mr. Bruschi said.

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