July 18, 2012

A Two-Person Solution for the New Princeton

Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi and Acting Township Administrator Kathy Monzo will be the Administrator and Deputy Administrator, respectively, of the consolidated Princeton government, effective January 1, 2013.

At a joint meeting on Monday evening, Borough Council and Township Committee members unanimously endorsed the Transition Task Force’s Personnel Committee recommendation, which provides, they believe, for “a team approach.” Mr. Bruschi’s appointment is for one year until he retires; the length of Ms. Monzo’s tenure was not specified. Before replacing Administrator Jim Pasacale, who retired earlier this year, Ms. Monzo was the Township’s Chief Financial Officer, and it was suggested that her new responsibilities as Deputy Administrator include serving as Director of Finance in the new government. This two-person solution, it was noted, comes at no additional cost to the new municipality.

Members of both governing bodies praised Mr. Bruschi’s and Ms. Monzo’s years of service, leadership skills, and readiness for their new jobs.

Although his appointment as Police Chief of the new municipality was already in place, Borough Police Chief Dave Dudeck was given an opportunity on Monday evening to answer questions and talk about his hopes for the future.

“The most important thing is that we meld the two departments together,” said Mr. Dudeck in response to Township Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert’s question about the “biggest challenge” he sees ahead. He described differences between the current Borough and Township Police Departments not as negatives, but as representing different styles of policing that may have been determined by the demands of each municipality. He cited the tradition of more foot patrol officers in the Borough than the Township as an example, and promised to deal with “cultural differences” by “opening lines of communication.” He returned to this theme several times, adding a description of “one-on-one” meetings and concern for professional development in response to Borough Councilwoman Jo Butler’s question about “specific things being done to integrate the forces.”

Township Committeewoman Sue Nemeth wondered what residents “should expect from new police department.” Calling it “a great question,” Mr. Dudeck emphasized a “very professional department,” where “integrity is of the utmost importance” and officers interact with citizens, rather than just “hiding in a car.” He noted that one side of policing is community service, while the other side is when “tragedy” occurs. “We will be there for you,” he said.

Flanked by representatives from KSS architects who served as consultants, Facilities and Assets subcommittee chair Bernie Miller charted the steps that led to recommendations regarding utilization of the Township and Borough Halls under the new administration, and, after some discussion, both governing boards approved the plan. Mr. Miller noted that, in the interest of doing away with old perceptions, the committee had begun to use different names for the two buildings, referring to them, for example, as the “Witherspoon Building” and the “Monument Building,” respectively.

Among the sticking points was a “third option” solution that locates offices for the mayor and administrator in the Witherspoon Building, with a “satellite” office in the Monument Building. Borough Councilman Roger Martindell wondered if two sets of offices for the mayor and administrator ran counter to the notion of consolidation.

Space considerations led to the recommendation that the new Police Department be housed in the Witherspoon Building where, for convenience sake, the court facilities would also be located. “Community-oriented” departments like Affordable Housing and Health will go the Monument Building, where they may be joined by TV30 and Corner House. A request for space from the Princeton Senior Resource Center was submitted “too late” for consideration in this round of recommendations, but Mr. Miller suggested that something could be “worked out” in the future.

Another recommendation, authorizing administrators to request a proposal from KSS for the new offices was also approved, but there was some disagreement about the wisdom of a recommendation that leaves management of the project to “the professional staff.” Borough Councilman Kevin Wilkes suggested that administrators’ “plates were already full,” and that there are professional construction managers available to coordinate such projects. It was noted that the wording of the recommendation did not preclude that option, and it was passed.