1 month until consolidation, TTF hears feedback from public
The Transition Task Force — the body tasked with facilitating the January consolidation between Princeton Borough and Princeton Township — unveiled the final draft of its report at a town hall-style meeting held to discuss the process with local residents on Monday night.
At the meeting, TTF project management consultant Joseph Stefko presented a draft of the task force’s final report and highlighted the work done by each of the task force’s subcommittees. After Borough administrator Bob Bruschi discussed where certain government departments’ offices would relocate next year, the task force held an open discussion to address residents’ questions about what can be expected in the coming year.
After voters approved a referendum to merge the two municipalities in 2011, the two governments appointed the TTF to review issues and make policy recommendations for the new government, which will be sworn in on Jan. 1, 2013.
Stefko, whose consulting group, Center for Governmental Research, worked with the task force to form its report, opened the meeting by explaining the structure of the task force and its procedure for addressing the technical issues of consolidation.
“We created this overarching priority inventory to drive the task force’s work and to drive work within each individual subcommittee,” Stefko said.
The presentation highlighted the task force’s most important recommendations and actions. For example, the Public Safety Subcommittee worked with outside consultants on combining the Borough and Township police departments, which will begin patrolling as a consolidated force on Wednesday.
Stefko added that the Communications and Outreach Subcommittee established a website to facilitate open communication with the public and planned a town-wide celebration, which will take place on Jan. 1 to usher in the new municipality government. The report from the Finance Subcommittee estimated a $350,000-400,000 reduction in the 2013 fiscal year budget resulting from the consolidation.
The TTF also formulated longer-term “Beyond Day One” recommendations for the new municipal government. These were not specifically discussed at the meeting but are detailed in the report, which is available on the task force’s website.
“So much of the task force’s work during 2012 was focused on the immediate, the most urgent, the things that absolutely needed to get taken care of before Jan. 1, but the reality is Jan. 1 is just day one of a new era,” Stefko said.
During the open forum, residents voiced their concerns over the technicalities of the transition and how it would affect their daily lives. The task force members explained the details of how services — such as the food compost program and refuse collection — would change, noting that residents would receive ample notice of any changes to their current services.
About 65 people attended the town hall meeting, which was held in the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room. The next public meeting of the TTF will be held on Dec. 19. This meeting will feature an evaluative report by a board of Wilson School graduate students who have been studying the consolidation process.