January 25, 2012

Goerner Not Running; Township Fine-tunes Task Force Resolution

At its Monday evening meeting, Township Committee modified and then approved a resolution establishing a Transition Task Force. Other Township news this week includes Mayor Chad Goerner’s recent announcement that he will not seek election as mayor of the consolidated Princetons in 2013.

“Having served for almost six years, I have achieved everything that I set out to accomplish when I first ran for office in 2006,” said Mr. Goerner, who is 36 years old. “I will instead serve the remainder of my term as mayor and guide the town through a smooth transition without any political distraction.”

Mr. Goerner commented that he really had two full-time jobs: one as a vice-president of the Swiss global finances services company, UBS, and the other as Township mayor.

This balancing act, along with a potential interest in starting a new business led him to “step back a bit” and “take a hiatus.” He did not preclude the possibility of returning to politics, however.

“I never had a plan to be mayor for decades,” Mr. Goener observed. “When I first ran for Township Committee in 2006, I had set a goal of consolidation, increased transparency, and fiscal responsibility. We’ve accomplished all of those things and more.”

Mr. Goerner’s current assignments include membership on the Library Board of Trustees, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Tax/Finance Committee, The Consolidation Commission, the Transition Task Force, and the Transit Force.

Consolidation was probably the number one goal on Mr. Goerner’s to-do list, and he expressed satisfaction at having participated in efforts that lead to the municipalities’ willingness to become one entity. These included, he said, writing op-ed pieces on consolidation and developing the proposal to study it under the Local Option Municipal Consolidation Act. Acceptance of the proposal led the way to the creation of the Joint Shared Services and Consolidation Commission.

As a member of the Commission, Mr. Goerner chaired the finance subcommittee “and campaigned tirelessly for consolidation once it was placed on the ballot.”

“The towns approved consolidation by a significant margin and we established a repeatable process for other towns,” he added. “Princeton will serve as a model for towns across the state.”

His goal now is to “seek a smooth transition to a single governing body in 2013.” After that, he said, it would probably be a good idea to have “new people come forward” to serve on the new governing body.

Mr. Goerner described the current governing body on which he has served as “a fantastic group of colleagues and municipal staff. I have been proud of what I have accomplished and it has been an honor to serve my community.”

Consolidation was on the minds of Township Committee members at its Monday evening meeting, when they approved an amended version of a resolution establishing the Transition Task Force. The first meeting of the task force will be held on Tuesday, January 31, at 7 p.m. in Township Hall.

While Township representatives to the team had already been approved, the committee fine-tuned the wording of several sentences in the resolution.

Citing the potential for “structural problems,” Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert questioned the resolution’s directive for one person from each municipality to serve as co-chairs of subcommittees. Successful subcommittees on the Consolidation Commission, it was noted, had a chair and a vice-chair, rather than co-chairs. It was suggested that the wording of the current resolution be changed so that the task force itself will decide on the model they want to use. Another proposed change to the resolution is the addition of words that will provide for additional meetings if needed. Borough Council will be asked to concur with these changes.

Princeton Township representatives to the Transition Team include residents Dorothea Berkhout, executive director for administration at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University; Linda Mather, president of Beacon Consulting Associates and League of Women Voters moderator; and Scott Sillars, president of Isles E4 and chair of the Citizen’s Finance Advisory Committee for Princeton Township. Miller Investment Management senior executive Gary Patterson will serve as an alternate member.

Elected officials from the Township include Mayor Chad Goerner and Committeeman Bernie Miller. Both served on the Consolidation Commission as well and are expected to provide a liaison between the two groups.

Other business at Monday night’s meeting included approval of an ordinance to appropriate $2,550,000 for the rehabilitation of the Township sewer system. Township engineer Bob Kiser reported that Grover Avenue, Battle Road, and Roper Road are among the streets scheduled for work. The public hearing for this ordinance will be on Monday, February 27.

Taxi drivers in the Township will be asked to provide background checks and have insurance that is in compliance with a new state law if an ordinance introduction approved on Monday evening is approved at a public hearing on Monday, February 6.

Sue Nemeth announced that the Sewer Operating Committee had elected a new chair, former Borough Councilman David Goldfarb. Ms. Nemeth will serve as vice-chair. She also reported that pool renovations are “moving along at a brisk pace,” and that bricks with family names to be placed at the site are for sale.