May 11, 2016

Council Votes to Adopt $61.9 Million Budget

Following a special May 2 workshop on the 2016 municipal budget, Princeton Council voted Monday to adopt the proposed figure of $61.9 million.

The proposal had originally called for an amendment raising taxes in order to increase the town’s surplus by $150,000, but that amendment was tabled in favor of changes recommended by the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee and municipal staff. Those changes include some cuts, as well as putting off the purchase of a police car and delaying a hire for the Sewer Operating Committee, among other measures.

“We’ve had a vigorous discussion on the budget, coming to terms with the fact that there’s no magic bullet,” Mayor Liz Lempert said at a press conference earlier in the day. “We’re working not just on this year, but on the future. If we start working on this earlier, we can see where the trends are.”

Council members including Bernie Miller and Patrick Simon have expressed concerns at recent meetings that the town was relying too heavily on the surplus of money not spent in previous years to balance the budget. The governing body was due to vote on the budget at its April 25 meeting, but decided more work was needed before a decision could be made.

“As I said at the last meeting, it’s a good budget,” Mr. Miller said at this week’s meeting. “And it’s even better having been worked over and brought to the point that as best as we can forecast at the present time, our surplus will not be reduced as a result of the budget.”

Mr. Miller went on to reiterate Ms. Lempert’s statement about the time frame and the scope of work on future budgets. “All of us now understand that going forward, we’ve got to work hard on the question of managing expenditures, working to -increase revenues, and making certain we get our bang for the buck out of the taxpayers’ money we spend, and be careful we don’t put ourselves in a position where we find our surplus being put into use,” he said.

Council members voted unanimously to pass the budget.