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Vol. LXII, No. 2
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
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Marchand Named to 11th Mayoral Term; Pushes State for Property Tax Reform

Matthew Hersh

Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand rebuked state-mandated municipal tax revenue caps Sunday, calling for the state Legislature to enact “true property tax reform” in 2008, while suggesting that otherwise fiscally responsible municipalities would deserve better than a “band-aid” approach to property tax refashioning.

The mayor took aim at the Legislature moments after the all-Democratic Township Committee unanimously voted her to an 11th consecutive mayoral term. Ms. Marchand was re-elected to a three-year Committee term in November. She was sworn in by District Court Judge Joseph Irenas.

Committee also unanimously authorized Committeeman Bernie Miller’s fourth term as deputy mayor. Mr. Miller is in the final year of his second three-year Committee term. Committeeman Lance Liverman, elected to a second term in November, was also sworn in to office.

The mayor’s reaction to the state’s mandated four-percent cap on how much a municipality can increase its tax revenue followed her charge that the underlying premise of the legislation was a perceived inability of towns to control spending, leading to the “arbitrary” cap. “Nothing could be further from the truth in Princeton Township,” Ms. Marchand said. “We know how to control spending. The problem is municipalities in the State of New Jersey are too dependent on property tax dollars to balance their municipal budgets.”

Ms. Marchand hinted that the Township, which holds a AAA bond rating, will have to help financing through its reserves, starting as early as the next budget cycle. She also warned of “higher tax increases down the road when these reserves are depleted.”

The mayor lauded past achievements in the Township, including measures taken to curb the practice of pay to play; the promotions of former police lieutenants Mark Emann and Robert Buchanan to chief and captain, respectively; and the Township’s 31-mile road repair campaign.

Princeton’s sustainability movement was also addressed, as Ms. Marchand pointed out that last year, the Princetons adopted a sustainability policy, contracting with the municipal environmental commission and a Rutgers-based institute to explore sustainable practices and education.

Echoing a call made by Borough Council President Peggy Karcher at the Princeton Borough reorganization meeting, Ms. Marchand said she would seek to build bridges with Princeton Borough, particularly on the issue of reinstitution of the parking subsidy at the Princeton Public Library that was rescinded in February 2007. She also said that the Princetons would continue working together on the recently state-rejected petition to exclude large trucks from routes 27 and 206, as well as Washington Road and Mercer Street. The large truck exclusion, she added, was “necessary to enhance the quality of life we seek.”

Other joint municipal ventures the mayor pointed to included finalizing a use plan for jointly-owned lands on River Road, the construction of the planned Hilltop Park skate park, and redevelopment possibilities for the Valley Road School building.

Ms. Marchand looked forward to the completion of the new Arts Council of Princeton facility on Witherspoon Street, as well as finalizing labor agreements for the municipal public works and police departments.

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