Think of Princeton Borough as the hole in the middle of the doughnut that is Princeton Township. While township police have to drive through the borough to make their rounds, the borough has to staff a building department and public works crew — just to pick two examples — that duplicate the township’s infrastructure. Wouldn’t everyone benefit from consolidation of the two governments?
The borough and township are now in discussion. Borough Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller sees potential savings in reducing the number of administrative positions. She also suggests that having all officials in one place would increase efficiency.
Borough Councilman David Goldfarb, above, however, is wary of consolidation. “I have concerns about the consequences for the downtown of Princeton Borough that are not shared by many people in the township,” says Goldfarb. “I don’t believe that consolidation will result in a significant reduction of costs. Whatever savings there are may be offset by new and creative ways to spend money.”
Rather, says Goldfarb, the municipalities should look for opportunities to expand joint services to reduce the cost of government. One obvious candidate is reducing the two police forces to one, a change that the borough advocates.
Although the township offers lip service to the idea, he says, in reality it has rejected serious consideration of a joint police department “because the township, which is in favor of consolidation, feels that any discussion of the police force will take the eyes off the prize of consolidation.” Therefore, Goldfarb foresees no significant progress on a shared police force while consolidation is on the table.
Nick Karp of the Citizen Finance Advisory Taskforce would like to see the borough communicate with other towns over shared interests. He wonders, for example, why emergency dispatch cannot be countywide, as it is in many states. Cross-border communication could also give the borough a stronger voice on county and state-level issues. “If Mayor Trotman calls someone in Trenton, they will give her a respectful hearing and that’s that,” says Karp. “If all the communities communicate together, maybe we can get something done.”
The taskforce has already started some of these conversations. “We are reaching out to nearby municipalities to establish a greater voice in issues that can’t be resolved locally, like binding arbitration or the affordable housing mandate,” says Karp.