The Transition Task Force’s Committees and Commissions Subcommittee met on Monday morning to discuss “filling out the complement” of committee members who will serve when consolidation becomes official on January 1, 2013.
All Boards, Commissions, and Committees for both Princeton Borough and Township will cease to exist as of December 31. In practical terms, this means all terms of office will end on that day. In the new year, the new mayor, with the consent of Council, will be selecting new members to serve on the successor Boards, Committees, and Commissions (BCCs), with the highest priority placed on those BCCs governed by state law.
“I’m encouraged,” said subcommittee member Hendricks Davis of the number of responses to the initial call for volunteers. He added, however, that “not every single seat in every single committee will be filled on January 1. The door to the stable has not been closed, and there is a continued need to reach out to people and encourage participation.”
Approximately 180 people have come forward so far; over 200 positions need to be filled. Mr. Hendricks and the other subcommittee members in attendance at Monday’s meeting, Wanda Gunning, Bernie Miller, and Gary Patteson, agreed that it is considered good practice to have a larger cadre of potential volunteers than will be needed. It was also agreed that municipal lawyers will offer guidance to committees that have not yet reached their full complement.
Mayor-elect Liz Lempert has reportedly suggested that there be “a table” offering BCC applications and information at the January 1 organizational meeting. The subcommittee is hoping that the historic nature of the meeting that day will draw a large audience, and that those who haven’t already volunteered will be moved to do so.
Until then, the volunteer form for serving is on both the Borough and Township websites and can be completed online. Hard copies of the application form are available in the Clerk’s Office at either the Borough or Township, and the Public Library. These should be submitted to Township Municipal Clerk Linda McDermott, 400 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540. Questions may also be directed to Ms. McDermott at (609) 924-5704.
Volunteering for a committee does not in any way ensure that a person will become a member. Qualifications are important, and, in some instances, committee members are required to specialize or have certification in areas like engineering, medicine, or architecture. This is particularly true of some of the state-mandated BCCs, which include the Planning Board, the Construction Board of Appeals, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, Historic Preservation, the Board of Health, Human Services, and the Library Board. It was noted that Princeton-based architects are sometimes reluctant to serve on the Planning Board because of the need to recuse themselves from certain cases.
In their applications, prospective volunteers may indicate their first, second, and third choice of committees, boards, or commissions, and may serve on more than one.
Mr. Patteson suggested that there was “no conclusion to be drawn” from the response so far, except that “we have to go back and ask people.” Ms. Gunning and Mr. Miller agreed that it would be good to remind current committee members about this opportunity to continue serving the community.