Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 31
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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Borough Council Passes 2008 Budget

Dilshanie Perera

Borough Council passed the municipal budget last Tuesday amid heated discussion. The 2008 budget is $25,264,214, which is an increase of over a million dollars from spending in 2007. The budget features a 5-cent tax increase, meaning that residents will now pay $1.03 on every $100 of assessed property value, as opposed to last year’s rate of $0.98.

The budget passed with a 4-1 vote. Council members David Goldfarb, Margaret Karcher, Barbara Trelsted, and Kevin Wilkes voted in favor of the budget, with Council member Roger Martindell voting against it. Andrew Koontz was not present.

Borough Council voiced concerns regarding increases in taxes and spending, with Mr. Goldfarb lamenting that “more than half of the increase in spending deals with things over which we have no decision-making role.” He was referring to the increase in pensions and the expenses of the Stony Brook Regional Sewerage Authority.

It’s not going to get any cheaper, either, according to Assistant Borough Administrator Sandra Webb, who predicted that next year’s budget would involve an increase in spending of 4.8 percent, and also a 6.2 cent tax increase.

The University came under censure by numerous members of Borough Council, including Mr. Goldfarb, Ms. Karcher, and Mr. Martindell. “We are relying heavily on surplus to meet the budget this year,” Ms. Karcher noted, adding “I don’t know how the University can sit quietly by without coming to us.”

Kristin Appleget, the Director of Community and Regional Affairs at the University, responded by saying that the University “is the largest taxpayer in the Borough,” adding that it “supplies over $1 million” in additional contributions.

Acknowledging that “we appreciate those contributions,” Mayor Mildred Trotman asserted that “the total of all contributions you make to Princeton Borough is not sufficient.”

Members of the public were invited to comment. Dudley Sipprelle of Nassau Street expressed disappointment, saying that the Borough has not “exercised rigor” or “considered the economic conditions of today” in assembling the budget.

Borough resident Helmut Schwab remarked that the gradual tax increase over a period of years is “squeezing out the older generation and not permitting the younger generation to live here.”

Pointing out that the reduction in state assistance to the Borough totals $159,000 this year, Ms. Trotman mentioned that the “unfunded mandates” of the state are also “passed along to municipalities,” which means that the state government has increased requirements while reducing aid. Mr. Goldfarb added that the state has “many ways to raise money,” citing sales tax and income tax, whereas the Borough must rely solely on property tax.

With respect to the future, Ms. Trelsted said that she is “absolutely convinced that there are ways to make the budget more efficient.” Mr. Martindell advocated increased coordination with the Township, and “addressing expense and revenue issues immediately, aggressively, and repetitively.”

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