Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 35
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
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Seeking Consultants, Consolidation Commission Gears Up for Evaluation

Dilshanie Perera

The Joint Consolidation and Shared Services Study Commission has sent out its request for proposals from consultants who will assess the pros and cons of full municipal consolidation as well as increased shared services.

Commission Vice Chair Valerie Haynes said that prospective consultants could meet with the Borough and Township Administrators for more details or to get more information about the proposal request on September 2 at 3 p.m. “Both Mayors indicated that they wanted to be there as observers,” she added.

The results of the consultant question-and-answer session would be typed up and distributed to all the prospective applicants ahead of the September 17 deadline for proposals.

Applications will be subsequently distributed to each member of the commission and the group will consider the applications together at their next meeting on September 22 at 7 p.m. in Community Room A at Township Hall. All meetings of the commission are open to the public. “The goal is to narrow it down,” Ms. Haynes noted.

Interviews with the finalists will be scheduled for September 27. They will tentatively begin at 4 p.m. and be open to the public. “We have reserved the right to go into closed session, but the goal is to be able to do everything in public,” Ms. Haynes said.

The major wrinkle in the commission’s proceedings is its budget. Ms. Haynes characterized the problem as a “chicken-or-egg kind of question,” explaining that $37,500 was coming to the municipalities from the state, with the Borough and Township pledging to “supplement that money.” The elected representatives on the commission felt it premature to begin talks with their respective governing bodies without knowing how much they would need to petition for. Once proposals are turned in, “we can see where the numbers are falling.”

The commission also created five subcommittees to focus on specific issues related to consolidation and shared services. They are: the Police Subcommittee, the Public Works Subcommittee, the Municipal Finance Subcommittee, the Full Consolidation Subcommittee, and the Community Outreach Subcommittee.

The subgroups are each comprised of three to four members of the commission who will look at their topic area and related budgets, and conduct interviews in order to make a thorough and informed assessment. Once a consultant is selected, it is likely they will work with him or her as well.

The duration of the consultant’s consolidation and shared services study can be no longer than six months, with a full report due by the end of the analysis.

“It’s a tight timetable, so we have to move it along very quickly,” Ms. Haynes acknowledged.

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