New local government takes shape as it meets for first time
In the first manifestation of the local government following consolidation, the newly elected, but still powerless, Princeton Council met on Monday afternoon in a preliminary meeting before it officially takes over on Jan. 1. The new council met in the former Township Hall, which was renamed the Princeton Municipal Complex during the consolidation process.
Unlike the Princeton Township committee meetings that were held in the same room, the new council sat around a long oval-shaped table, at which everyone could see each other’s faces. The newly elected mayor of the consolidated Princeton, Liz Lempert, who served as deputy mayor on the Township committee, sat on one end, and the consolidated government administrator Robert Bruschi, the former Princeton Borough administrator, sat at the other end. The two members of the new council from the Township committee, Bernie Miller and Lance Liverman, sat next to each other.
Lempert, who cannot vote except to break ties, and all six members of the council are Democrats.
The new Princeton Council won’t come into power until Jan. 1 and cannot vote or make any motions in the meantime. But the meeting on Monday provided a time and place for the council members, who draw from both municipalities, to ameliorate potential concerns about the transition to the new government.
Despite the fact that members of the new council have been elected, they are still concerned about consolidation details, which will be worked out as January approaches. The council still had numbers and bids to debate and spent a large amount of time debating differences in residential trash collection between the Borough and Township — an issue also considered by the Transition Task Force.
Beyond settling these technical issues of consolidation, the council must also set an agenda for 2013 and decide what larger goals it wants to accomplish.
“There is a lot of excitement over the possibilities of consolidation,” said Lempert, who cautioned that not everything could be accomplished over the next year. “We want to be focused on what we want to get done.”
“It is important that we get off on the right foot,” Bruschi said. “We should sit down and plan out what are the major things we want to accomplish. You’re just not going to be able to be everything to everybody.”
Bruschi recommended an orientation process for the staff and the councilmembers themselves to ensure a smooth transition to the borough-style government. Lempert seconded Bruschi's suggestion and all the council members said that they would be interested.
However, not everything was easily agreed upon during the meeting. There was still mild tension between representatives of the Township and the Borough, which have historically been at odds, especially regarding differences between the two former municipalities. Liverman highlighted a few fees that he knew to be different, such as the dog registration fee, which is currently lower in the Township than in the Borough. This disagreement echoed the tensions that dominated the Transition Task Force meetings and deliberations regarding the differences between the Borough and Township.
Before the end of the year, the council plans to have three more meetings to work out these differences.
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.