For the Princetons, 2012 is the year we transition to a single municipal government, with the promise of a brighter and more sustainable future.
Our success in consolidating has set off a series of similar efforts across the state. To that end, a dynamic and energetic organization called Courage to Connect New Jersey has gathered significant momentum and is holding a conference on municipal consolidation March 28 in East Brunswick. The statewide event will build on the success that we’ve had in Princeton Borough and Princeton Township. In a time when municipalities across the state are struggling to maintain the same level of service, we, in Princeton Township, have struggled to do the same while trying to keep municipal taxes low. As a result, we ended up reducing 18 percent of our staff over the past five years. With the new 2 percent state-mandated municipal cap, many towns are facing a choice: reduce staff and cut services, or spend down their municipal surplus (i.e., savings). This is the situation that towns across the state face today. Consolidation will put our towns on a more sustainable path and allow us to bring back services that had been cut to balance the budget. At the same time, it will save our taxpayers a significant amount of money. Princeton Borough and Princeton Township have identified $3.2 million in annual savings at the full implementation of our consolidation plan. These savings are from personnel reductions only. (One personnel reduction is my own, because I worked myself out of a job, too.) Personnel savings of $3.2 million is significant, for it represents about 6 percent of our combined municipal budgets. However, there’s an opportunity to save even more by combining operating budgets and eliminating duplicative contracted services (municipal audits, software licensing fees, office equipment, etc.).
This op-ed originally appeared in The Star-Ledger. To continue reading, download the full PDF click here.