Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 22
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
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Borough Approves $24M Municipal Budget, Looking to Favor Surplus Over More Cuts

Matthew Hersh

Borough Hall last Tuesday favored an increase in the municipal surplus over further cuts to the tax levy, as Council, by a 5 to 1 margin, voted to approve its $24.19 million budget.

The vote assured a four-cent, five percent overall increase, though that number was down from initial five-and-a-half-cent increase first outlined at the beginning of the budget cycle earlier this year.

The vote quashed a call to further lower the tax rate by another cent rather than move one-cent from the municipal surplus. Council members overwhelmingly favored keeping that funding for the surplus, anticipating steep budgetary challenges in future years.

"It's good to maintain this surplus," said Councilman Andrew Koontz, calling on Council to vote for "stable taxation" in order to build a surplus for future years. "It's the proper way to go and very responsible to the taxpayers."

The Borough has set a running goal of fueling about five percent of its annual budget for the surplus. The Borough exhausted about $1.9 million of its budget in 2006.

Mark Alexandridis of Princeton Avenue sided with Councilman Roger Martindell in favoring further cuts over padding the surplus. "Taxpayers need some good news and it seems that there's enough flexibility in the budget that you don't need to put $100K away."

But Council President Peggy Karcher urged her colleagues to vote in favor of the budget on the table: "A penny in our surplus is a penny in the taxpayer's pocket. If we don't need it this year, we'll need it next year."

As approved, the new budget translates into a $3,414 increase for the average Borough homeowner with a home assessed at $348,413. The four-cent increase brings the Borough municipal tax rate up to 98 cents per $100 assessed value.

In related business, the Borough voted to increase parking rates in both the Spring Street Municipal Garage as well as in meters around the downtown for the first time in seven years. Garage rates are expected to rise $1 to $1.25 for the first hour, and then increase incrementally by $1.25 for subsequent hours up to five hours, where rates will increase by $2 increments.

Rates in 15- and 30-minute meters will rise 25 cents to $1.25 per hour. Two-hour meters, depending on location, will now be between 75 cents and $1.25 per hour.

In other news, Kevin Wilkes of the Princeton Parks Alliance said that the rehabilitation effort for the Princeton Battle Monument was near completion and that a grand opening celebration will take place September 15.

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