Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 19
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
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Borough Eyes Smaller Hike, Leaving Council Members to Consider Shifting Burden

Matthew Hersh

Facing renewed, smaller tax levy projections, and several unresolved budgetary issues, Princeton Borough Council last week held off on adopting its 2007 municipal budget, setting its sights on placing probable new tax levies in other areas, including parking.

The proposed $24.2 million budget would represent a four-cent increase to 98 cents for every $100 of assessed property value. That increase is down about a cent-and-a-half as compared to initial projections dating back as early as December of last year. At the new level, the average Borough house assessed at $348,413, will be subject to $3,414 in municipal taxes this year.

But as the result of a discussion last week, it now appears that Borough parking rates could be increased to help offset monies collected through property taxes. Borough Councilman Roger Martindell referred to a 2006 effort to lessen the tax levy by changing the parking rates, and this year, it appears that the initiative could gather some steam.

"We should enact the increase: we need to remind taxpayers that either they can pay for it, or the parkers can pay for it." Mr. Martindell pointed to the abundance of out-of-town visitors who use Borough parking on weekends.

At last night's Council hearing, which took place after Town Topics went to press, that notion was on slated to be examined. In a May 4 memo to Council, Borough engineer Carl Peters proposed an average parking increase of 25 percent for all of the metered zones in the municipal parking system, as well as "similar" increases in the Spring Street Garage rates. Mr. Peters cited a seven-year drought in parking levies, as well as a 10 percent discount related to the Park Smart Card, leaving, if approved, an actual increase of 23.5 percent, or 3.1 percent per year since 2000.

Mr. Peters also pointed to a sales tax change last year that placed a 7 percent levy on municipal parking garages.

This latest parking rate increase proposal, however, is likely to be better received than February's 50 percent increase. For example, 15- and 30-minute metered zones would rise to $1.25 per hour; two-hour metered zones would rise to anywhere between 75 cents and $1.25 per hour, depending on the area, and four-hour zones would rise to $1 per hour. Ten-, 12-, and 14-hour meters would be subjected to similar 25 percent increases, but rates would fluctuate depending on meter location, with decreases in hourly rates for longer stays.

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