Letters to the Editor: Borough Council Candidate Says Spend Less, More Consolidation Opponents Weigh In
Bring Back Sanity in Municipal Spending
To the Editor:
I am running for Princeton Borough Council because I want to restore municipal finances to sanity. Spending more than comes in is unsustainable. We are becoming Greece on the banks of the Stony Brook.
My priorities are:
1. Reduce property taxes. Cutting the Borough budget by 1% would save each taxpayer $125 annually.
2. Implement measures to reduce vehicular gridlock on our major thoroughfares.
3. Turn the dysfunctional relationship with Princeton University into one of mutual benefit.
The Consolidation Commission shortchanged Princeton by sticking with the antiquated and inefficient Borough form of government which limits citizen participation. I will continue to advocate for non-partisan elections, a mixed ward/at-large system of representation and a “strong” mayor who is the municipal chief executive and directly accountable to the voters.
“Experience” and election outcomes based on “party loyalty” have produced only office holder arrogance and disregard for the taxpayer. A vote for Dudley Sipprelle will put a charge into the current passive style of Borough governance.
Dudley Sipprelle, Republican Candidate for Borough Council
There is No “Killer App” for Consolidation
Dear Planet Princeton:
Consolidation of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township has been on the ballot in 1951, 1961, 1969, 1978, and 1996. Each time, Borough voters said “no.” Why was this? On every occasion, Borough voters concluded that consolidation is not in their interest.
In this latest effort, the Joint Consolidation and Shared Services Commission once again failed to satisfy the concerns of Borough residents. The form of government that the Commission has selected will disenfranchise Borough residents, because there are two Township voters for every one Borough voter and all representatives will be elected at-large. With this voting system, Borough citizens will lose voting influence. Borough residents will have little or possibly no representation on a consolidated municipal government. Additionaly, they will completely lose guaranteed representation in the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, the School Board, the Recreation Board, and other municipal boards that currently have Borough members. The Commission provided no compensating benefits of any kind to ameliorate these serious concerns for Borough residents.
Given the major disadvantage of consolidation–disenfranchisement–surely there must be a “killer app”, an overwhelmingly important advantage, that could persuade Borough residents to support consolidation? People were anticipating that it would offer significant tax savings. Many residents have recently suffered astounding property tax increases of 10%, 30%, or even a crippling 50% in the recent property reassessment. The Commission’s own data show that Consolidation may result in a 2.2% decrease in property taxes (even that may be optimistic; it depends on significant staff reductions). This is an absurdly small decrease, given our recent huge reassessment increases. It does not even begin to make the losses of representation worthwhile.
There is no “killer app” for Consolidation. Instead, it has a significant disbenefits.
There is a better alternative, providing most of the savings with none of the representation and other losses. It is to extend Shared Services without consolidation, an approach also proposed by the President of the NJ Conference of Mayors. We already share schools, recreation, a number of commissions, and our library. The majority of the savings proposed by the Commission, in fact, arise not from consolidation at all, but from further sharing, notably of the Police departments. Public Works is another major area to examine for sharing. We can get these savings by Sharing without the disadvantages of Consolidation.
The Borough and Township form a close community. But we need not and should not get married. Better, we can remain good friends, combine selected resources, and retain our individual strengths.
Anthony Lunn, Borough Resident
My Vote Will Count Less
I am writing to voice my opinion against consolidation. My vote should be counted with people that have the some concerns and interests as I do that is why we have the borough and that is why I would like to keep it that way. Also my vote will count for less if the consolidation occurs.
John Patterson, Borough Resident