Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 44
 
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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Finance Advocacy Taskforce to Analyze Borough Budgeting

Dilshanie Perera

The newly-created Citizen Finance Advocacy Taskforce (CFAT) is an ad hoc group comprised of local residents and merchants that aims to assist in the budgeting process, find savings, and address fiscal challenges as they pertain to the Borough.

Formally elaborating upon the taskforce’s goals to the governing body at last week’s Council meeting, group member Jo Butler said that “our intention is to increase the transparency of the budget and budgeting process.”

Reducing the tax burden on taxpayers by identifying “key areas of opportunity for spending efficiency and revenue enhancement” is also part of their mission.

“We hope we can be a conduit for citizen input in the process at a point when that input matters,” Ms. Butler remarked, adding that the CFAT will “identify among those concerned taxpayers, citizens with expertise in areas that could be useful in identifying opportunities for spending efficiencies and revenue enhancement.”

Frustrations arising from the extension of parking hours and fee increases downtown earlier this year prompted the creation of the finance advocacy taskforce, Ms. Butler said.

Ms. Butler suggested that the Borough assess the cost of providing healthcare for municipal workers. “We feel confident that simply rebidding the current benefit package could save money and...could result in significant savings.”

Furthermore, the taskforce supports efforts to study consolidation between the Borough and Township “either wholly or in shared services,” and hopes to participate in discussions about payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) by nonprofit organizations in the community.

The charter members of CFAT, Ms. Butler, Mark Censits, Jenny Crumiller, Alan Hegedus, Henry Landau, Jack Morrison, and Hank Siegel, are looking to recruit residents and taxpayers from the Borough with expertise in “accounting, business administration, finance, corporate financial planning, marketing research, marketing, economics, or computer science,” according to the group’s charter.

Calling the project an “invitation to innovative thinking,” Mr. Morrison characterized the taskforce as a group of “concerned citizens” that transcends “political barriers.”

Council President Andrew Koontz supported CFAT’s “decision to remain autonomous,” which would allow the group “to give Borough Council unvarnished advice.”

“Their goals coincide with mine,” Council member David Goldfarb remarked. “All of us are looking for efficiencies.”

For more information, visit the Citizens Finance Advocacy Taskforce’s website at cfatprinceton.com.

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