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Letters: Princeton Council Candidate Outlines Her Priorities

To the Editor:

As I run for Council in New Jersey’s June 7 primary, I look forward to discussing issues with Princeton’s Democratic voters.

I see three main issues facing Council: affordability and municipal property taxes, affordability and Princeton University, and affordability and McMansions. (The school budget is not within
Council’s purview.)

First, I believe Council does control spending carefully. But what about increasing revenue? Having met for four years with Princeton Future’s Neighborhood Retail Initiative, I propose a volunteer economic development commission to help us retain existing businesses and attract new ones in keeping with our town’s character.

Second, affordability and the University: Council should begin consulting with the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the case questioning the University’s non-profit status. The University has agreed to explore mediation, and we need to ensure the best settlement for our town. Having met for five years with a committee that studied this issue, I favor a greatly increased Payment in Lieu of Taxes that grows predictably each year, according to the University’s annual income or the value of its real property, fairly assessed.

Third, affordability and McMansions: I served seven years on Princeton’s Site Plan Review Advisory Board. To slow tear-downs of modest homes and their replacement by million-dollar spec houses, I favor toughening the Borough’s 2006 McMansion law and applying it also to denser parts of the former Township. Set-backs, floor-area ratio, and height should reflect each neighborhood’s existing averages.

For more information, please email anne.neumann@verizon.net.

Anne Waldron Neumann

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  • Jim Jenson

    With 5x% of property taxes going to the Princeton School District, and another ~25% going to a solidly-Democrat County machine, the effect of Princeton’s Council on property tax “affordability” is smaller than one might hope.

    I would want someone who understands the dynamics of the entire tax bill, not just Princeton municipality’s share, Maybe someone who knows how Mercer County govt works? Or who served on the school board and knows the destructiveness of PILOT’s as a way for large property owners to avoid paying school taxes?

    The stainless steel pool and the extra land up on the ridge were nice-to-have extra’s for a not-quite-profligate Council . . . but taking on the Valley Road School would be a very special money pit.

    It’s a tough concept to get around, but to truly reduce taxes, one must spend less.

  • Anne Waldron Neumann

    I think we must have different senses of humor, Blake. With 4 candidates running for 2 openings in the Democratic primary, I am far from certain of election!

  • Blake Cash

    Better expressed. One of the troubling things of Princeton is your certainty of election. Perhaps we could save money by avoiding ballots altogether.

  • Anne Waldron Neumann

    Please recognize, Blake, that a certain shorthand is required in letters to the editor, which are limited in length. Suppose I said the following?

    First, it’s expensive to live in Princeton because taxes are high. So let’s look at ways to increase revenue through economic development.

    Second, taxes are high partly because the University doesn’t pay its fIair share. So let’s not “appeal” to its better nature (which, as a non-person, it doesn’t have). Let’s instead prepare to make the best use of a legal process I’m convinced will benefit the town.

    Third, many Princetonians believe that property taxes rise for people who live next to tear-downs replaced by million-dollar spec houses (if you prefer that expression to “McMansions”) because the assessed values of their more modest homes rise under Princeton’s compliance plan, a kind of rolling re-assessment. So let’s slow that process.

    Please also recognize that “Princeton’s three main problems are affordability, affordability, and affordability” is my attempt at wit, something like “The three greatest benefits of living in Princeton are location, location, location.”

    When I’m elected, I hope you’ll consider letting me appoint you to the volunteer economic development commission I’ll

  • Blake Cash

    So the “priority” is affordability. Way to overuse a meaningless buzzword.

    You use the term to address excessive expenditures, bouncing back to increasing revenues.

    Then you use the term to address revenues once again, in an appeal to the deep pockets of the university.

    Then you use the term to address land use, ignoring the potential revenue of “McMansions” (a word you also use improperly).

    Full disclosure, I’m a Republican. I am disappointed in the Democrat leadership of Princeton, the appalling lack of diversity and honesty. But really, affordability is not three different priorities, although you clearly do not understand the meaning of the word “affordability.” In an election is which you faced an opponent such failures of communication might damage your electability, here you fit the status quo.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    I am voting for Anne, hands down. I hope that all of the Princetonians who can appreciate her intelligence, her experience, her activism and participation in all sorts of boards and committees, get out and give her a vote. She is a long time resident of this town who has lived and seen it all, and she will genuinely fight for what is right. She and Jenny have my vote.

  • 30 year resident

    Anne Neumann will bring new energy and fresh ideas to a Council that must be concerned with what kind of community Princeton is becoming. Her experience and humanity will serve us well.

  • Dosier Hammond

    Anne is addressing affordability broadly and well, and thereby also the diversity and quality of life in Princeton. Through her many years of experience and service on committees and boards she has promoted good ideas for our town, and continues to do so in this campaign. Her presentation at the PCDO endorsement meeting was particularly strong. She would be a very good addition to the Princeton Council

  • Long-time Princeton Resident

    Anne has identified the most important issues facing Princeton residents, and she has very sensible proposals for dealing with them. She has an extraordinary amount of experience on Princeton municipal bodies. She and Jenny Crumiller are the best of the four candidates running for Princeton Council.

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