Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 42
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
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New Billing Procedure, Property Reevaluation, Approved by Borough

Dilshanie Perera

Last Tuesday Borough Council approved a new capital billing and payment procedure drawn up by administrators to address monies owed to the Borough by the Township and vice versa.

The October 1 meeting saw a debate ignited by a bond ordinance authorizing $1.3 million for joint capital improvements between the Borough and Township. Back dues between the two municipalities came up in the heated discussion, with Council member Roger Martindell insisting that a written procedure ensuring timely billing and payment be drawn up.

The Township currently owes the Borough $3.8 million, according to Borough documents. This number does not subtract out the monies that the Borough owes the Township.

Council member Andrew Koontz pointed out that the $1.6 million owed for capital projects from 2007 was billed on September 8 of this year, and that over $700,000 from capital projects from 2008 has yet to be billed.

“The most significant concern is money from 2006, which we haven’t addressed yet,” Mr. Koontz noted, referencing the million dollars billed in December 2007 that have yet to be paid.

Saying that he approves of “the administrative procedure outlined here,” Mr. Koontz added that it was “not necessary to have an ordinance” about the billing and payment procedure.

By contrast, Mr. Martindell suggested an interlocal agreement to solidify the procedure. “It works both ways, it’s fair, it’s professional,” he remarked, saying that they will be “looking for monies going forward” as opposed to applying the procedure retroactively to past due bills.

Regarding the debt, Mr. Martindell said that “through 2007, the Township owes us a net of a million dollars,” adding that “at four percent a year, that’s $100,000 we’ve funded for the township’s benefit and we’ve gotten nothing for it.”

For the first time in 12 years, properties in the Borough will be reevaluated. Council awarded the contract for the reevaluation to Appraisal Systems, which will work in both the Borough and Township over the end of this year and next year to inspect properties, said Borough and Township Tax Assessor Neal Snyder in a phone interview.

The interior and exterior inspections will lead to new assessed values, and new rates on property tax bills by February 2010, according to Mr. Snyder, who foresees a redistribution of taxes in which one third of property taxes will increase, a third will stay the same, and a third will decrease.

“We’re not looking for more money,” Mr. Snyder said, pointing out that the assessment will “take a snapshot of the values” and redistribute taxes accordingly.

During the meeting, Council member David Goldfarb asked about the proposed timetable for evaluations, and requested that Mr. Snyder come in to report on the assessment and the process.

“Residents deserve a complete explanation,” agreed Mr. Koontz.

“Two thousand nine will be a tough year,” said Mr. Martindell in reference to taxes. “We need to be very judicious, and more forward-thinking,” he said, observing that the more steps that Council takes to reduce taxes next year, “the better off everyone is going to be.”

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