Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 20
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
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School Board Vote on Budget Set for Today

Linda Arntzenius

Since the defeat of the Princeton Regional School's 2007-08 budget, members of the Board of Education have been working with Princeton Borough and Township officials to reduce the $76.1 million budget and identify specific line items to be cut.

A revised 2007-08 budget is due to be submitted to Mercer County by next Monday, May 21.

At meetings in closed session on Tuesday, May 8, and Wednesday, May 9, subcommittees from both municipalities and board members worked with an external auditor engaged by the councils to agree on how much to cut from the budget.

"After much documentation  over 2,000 pages  and information exchanged over the last two weeks, we have a tentative understanding," said Superintendent of Schools Judith A. Wilson.

Last night (after Town Topics press time) board members and officials of the two municipalities were due to meet again to discuss specific line item cuts proposed by the board of education.

The school board is scheduled to meet today, Wednesday, May 16, at 8:30 a.m. in the John Witherspoon Middle School to take a formal vote on the budget revisions.

Speaking yesterday prior to last night's meeting, Ms. Wilson said that the board had been asked by the municipalities to identify specific areas to cut.

"Our approach has been to spread the cuts in a balanced way across the board, K through 12, across several categories ranging from supplies, athletics, equipment, and stipends. We have worked to reduce the impact in any one area, so that no child would have a current learning opportunity eliminated."

Ms. Wilson said that the issue would be resolved at this morning's meeting and commended the municipalities and the board for the very professional discussions that have taken place. "Everyone worked to reach a fair resolution," she said.

Under state statute, the municipalities have until May 21 to approve a revised budget, for which documentation with specific line item cuts, if any, must be submitted to the county office. A new tax rate must be certified by May 21.

This year's $76.1 million budget, with its tax levy of $56.2 million for Borough and Township homeowners, passed narrowly in the Township but was roundly rejected in the Borough where the tax burden would have had a greater impact on residents.

The rate would have been $1.89 per $100 of assessed value in the Borough (16 cents more than last year) and $1.72 for every $100 of assessed value in the Township (10 cents more than last year).

If the budget is cut by $1 million, homeowners could see those rates fall by one cent per $100 of assessed value in both municipalities.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, at 8 p.m. in the cafeteria of John Witherspoon Middle School.

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