Although the Borough and the Township’s annual reorganization meetings were scheduled for Tuesday evening, January 3, after Town Topics’ press time, Township Mayor Chad Goerner and Deputy Mayor Sue Nemeth were happy to talk about their hopes and expectations for 2012 before the formalities began.
In response to rumors that he will not run again for mayor, Mr. Goerner explained that both he and Ms. Nemeth were expected to be renamed to their posts at the Township’s Tuesday evening meeting. He said, however, that he has not yet decided whether or not to run for mayor of the new consolidated municipality in the coming November election. He reported that he would make his decision “later this month.”
Implementing consolidation was, not surprisingly, high on both Mr. Goerner’s and Ms. Nemeth’s list of priorities in the coming year. “I predict we’ll implement the historic merger of Princeton Township and Borough with greater ease than anyone envisioned and achieve greater savings than projected,” said Ms. Nemeth.
Mr. Goerner was more guarded in his forecast, noting that while “the biggest obstacle was getting consolidation to pass,” making it happen “won’t always be easy and I am sure there will be obstacles.” Mr. Goerner, who served on the Consolidation/Shared Services Commission, said that he “was proud to promote consolidation and see it as a long term benefit for our residents.”
Preparing for a fiscally healthy new municipality was another priority for Mr. Goerner. “Collaboration will also be important as it relates to Borough and Township finances,” he noted. “I have proposed that the two municipalities’ Joint Finance Committee work together to ensure transparency and consistency in both municipal budgets for 2012. There should be no significant disparities in terms of new debt issuance or tax rates. It will build trust between the two communities as we transition to a single one.”
Ms. Nemeth predicted that the Princetons’ successful consolidation “will serve as a model for other communities committed to improving services and providing tax relief.” She anticipated “a more productive relationship with the University,” adding that “we applaud their willingness to contribute to essential services and underwrite a portion of the transition costs of consolidation.”
“I also anticipate that new development will be a lively issue for 2012,” commented Mr. Goerner. “The Institute for Advanced Study has a concept plan for housing right now that I believe strikes the right balance for both preservationists and faculty housing needs.” Princeton University will most likely begin planning for phase one of the Arts and Transit zone, he observed, adding that he looks forward to “being involved in those discussions.”
Two of Princeton’s landmarks — the hospital and the Community Park pool complex — are currently “undergoing major transformations,” Ms. Nemeth said, and she is looking forward to their reopening as “state-of-the-art facilities that will serve our community for many decades.” Other positive initiatives in the coming year, she said, include a study of transportation needs, encouraging the development of affordable housing in the community, and enhancing public safety with fully coordinated emergency services.
“I hope the action in 2012 is positive and not filled with political jostling and theater as we head into 2013,” commented Mr. Goerner. “That may be too optimistic,” he added.