Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 20
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
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Borough Introduces $24,716,958 Budget

Dilshanie Perera

Borough Council unanimously voted to introduce its 2010 budget, which totals $24,716,958, at its meeting last week. The municipal tax rate will remain flat this year, with taxes continuing to fund 42 percent of the budget.

Tasked with developing a budget that did not exceed spending levels from 2009, and creating a plan that did not increase the municipal tax rate, Mr. Bruschi reported that staff had met those goals in putting together the current year’s budget.

No layoffs are proposed this year, largely because “positions became vacant and the net effect is the same.” While there are no new sources of revenue, and state aid is down approximately $278,000, other cuts allowed the Borough to meet its goals.

With the administration-recommended change of reducing the surplus by $601,192 in order to increase the capital fund balance by $501,192 and the open space fund by $100,000, the revenue streams can be stabilized with no net impact, Mr. Bruschi said.

Cautioning the governing body that the 2010 budget leaves very little flexibility, Mr. Bruschi noted that at the staff level, the budget would require extensive monitoring to ensure no errors occur in expenditures. He suggested that there would be monthly internal reviews by staff. Previously, the reviews were conducted on a quarterly basis.

Further monitoring of state decision-making that will likely have an impact on the Borough was also on the list of recommendations for the future. Mr. Bruschi urged Council to “prioritize services that are important to the Borough,” and to do so in the late summer or early fall of this year so that the stage will be set for the 2011 budget process.

Finding common ground with the Township to establish more joint agencies to save both municipalities money and to provide for better access to services for citizens was suggested as well as negotiating new terms for the bargaining agreements with the four unions, the contracts of which are up for reconsideration at the end of this year.

Retrofitting the municipal garage with energy-efficient lamps is expected to save the Borough $40,000 per year in utility fees, Mr. Bruschi added.

Council praised Mr. Bruschi and the Borough staff’s work in putting together the budget document that met their goals.

“There has been no tax increase and no net budget increase for the second year in a row. I don’t know of any other state, county, or municipal government that has achieved the same thing,” noted Councilman Roger Martindell, who also called for a two-year budgeting plan to determine what to expect going forward.

After expressing his pride in what was accomplished, Councilman David Goldfarb pointed out that “we are starting the year with more surplus than what we ended with in 2007.” Mr. Bruschi said “this will be the highest surplus so far that the Borough has started the year with … it puts us in a really nice spot in a really tough economy.”

The 2010 budget will appear before Council for final approvals in an open public meeting on June 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.

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