November 28, 2012

It’s Unofficially Official: New Council Meets

They are forbidden by law to take official action until January 1. But the new Princeton Council, headed by Mayor-elect Liz Lempert, held its first preliminary meeting Monday to get a head start on what is sure to be a busy schedule once consolidation takes effect January 1.

“What we’re doing here is getting organized so we can hit the ground running on January 1,” said Ms. Lempert. While no voting was permitted, there was “a lot of housekeeping” to attend to, she added. The six members of the newly elected Council, all Democrats, were in attendance. Seated around a table, instead of on the dais, were Jenny Crumiller, Jo Butler, and Heather Howard, who are part of the current Borough Council, along with Lance Liverman and Bernie Miller, who come from Township Committee. The two governing bodies officially become one on the first day of 2013.

Chief among the topics at this preliminary meeting was trash and food waste collection. Borough residents currently have their trash picked up once a week, while Township residents use other services. Once consolidation takes effect, Township residents can either have their refuse picked up by the municipality or continue to contract privately.

The Borough’s current contract expires February 1, and bids are due in by December 6. But there will be no lapse in services. “We will be ready for residential pickup,” said Bob Bruschi, the consolidated government administrator. “We will do two mass mailings [with information] and some of it is already on the website. But we will hold the details, like when specific trash days are going to be, until we see who the vendor is going to be.”

Ms. Lempert added that Township residents who want to participate in the program must cancel their private services, if they have them, as of January 1. There will be no change in the Borough’s refuse collection.

The residential Curbside Food Waste Program currently counts about 430 Township and Borough residents as participants. The program sends food waste to a compost pile instead of a landfill and costs $240 per year per household. A new two-year proposal would continue the program at about $37 to $59 per household.

Mr. Miller asked Janet Pellichero, who is Princeton Township’s Recycling Coordinator, why more people aren’t participating in the current program. “The main issue is cost,” she said, citing the $20 a month required. The topic was to be taken up in more detail at last night’s meeting of Borough Council.

Other topics at the meeting included training and goal-setting. Ms. Lempert said she hopes to have at least one goal-setting session that would be open to members of the public. Ms. Lempert intends to hold a few more of these unofficial gatherings of the new Council before the year’s end. The next one is December 3 at 5 p.m., in the municipal complex.