News

Topic of Tax Fairness heating up

Thanks in large part to the efforts of the PCDO's ad hoc committee on Local Issues and its successor non-partisan group, Princeton Citizens for Tax Fairness, the topic of Princeton University's contribution to our municipal finances has been in the news lately.

 

This was the lead editorial in Saturday's Star-Ledger. 

http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2010/07/princeton_university_should_co.html

This was the coverage from Bloomberg News over the past few weeks:

Video feed:        http://feedroom.businessweek.com/?fr_story=c2b132bc383f23ef64ddb1567b1dbecd43843a87

Article:    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-06-29/princeton-as-hedge-fund-foils-residents-seeking-relative-share-of-taxes.html

Last April’s article from the Princeton Alumni Weekly:

http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2010/05/12/pages/4849/ For those of you who haven't seen these articles, they are quite informative. Check them out!

 

 

 

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Jo Butler's Statement (June 2010 primary)

I want to thank the PCDO for this opportunity to once again ask for your support in the Borough Council Primary on Tuesday, June 8.

 

As many of you know, I have been meeting constituents at campaign events and by going door to door. One question I am often asked is, “Why are you running?”   To answer that, I reflect on my family’s decision to move to Princeton nearly fifteen years ago.  We needed to move from Center City Philadelphia to somewhere in the greater New York area.  It was important to us to be in a diverse, multi-cultural community that valued education over bank balances, that had a vibrant downtown within walking distance, and that had sidewalks, running paths and cultural opportunities.  We felt then, and continue to feel now, that Princeton is truly a unique community.  I am running because I want to help Princeton remain an attractive, desirable and affordable community for other young families and all who want to live here.

 

Other questions often asked are, “How are you different than your opponents?” or “What will you bring to the position?”  Having earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business, I am the only candidate with a background in finance.  I currently work for Wickenden Associates, an educational consulting firm specializing in Head of School searches.  One of the most important tasks facing the next person elected to the Borough Council will be hiring a replacement for Bob Bruschi, the Borough Administrator who is slated to retire at the end of 2011, and I believe that my expertise in high-level searches and my background in finance will be valuable skills in that process.

 

Since my arrival in Princeton, I have been an active community volunteer.  In addition to volunteering extensively at my children’s schools, I served for ten years on the Friends of the Princeton Public Library (www.princetonlibrary.org).  When citizens were concerned about the revaluations of their homes, I worked quickly with colleagues at the Library to set up day, evening and weekend sessions to offer guidance and resources for homeowners to challenge their revaluations.  I also serve on the board of People & Stories/Gente y Cuentos (www.peopleandstories.org), a program in English and Spanish that creates public, grassroots access to literature.

 

Residents of all neighborhoods are concerned about property taxes and the impact of the revaluation.  Understandably, seniors on a fixed income are worried about their ability to remain in Princeton.  As Chair of the Citizens Finance Advisory Taskforce, I have been working hard to make our budget more transparent and bring the plight of Borough taxpayers to the attention of the Council.  This year the Council has proposed a budget that does not include a tax increase for the Borough portion of our tax obligation, and I believe that CFAT made a difference in the process.  In addition to more transparency, CFAT is advocating for the creation of five- to ten-year budget projections which we believe will help in the overall financial management of the Borough.

 

If elected, I will recommend the formation of a blue-ribbon panel of Princeton residents to study Princeton University’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes and make recommendations for a long-term meaningful solution.  The agreement currently in place, and approved by the Council, is based on a paper written by former Mayor Joe O’Neill (www.jobutler.com) .  We need to understand why that agreement no longer meets the changing needs of the town.  We also need to define what a fair share would be.  I would like to see the study of other comparable town/gown arrangements in order to determine what is fair.  I don’t believe that simply calling on the University to pay 100 percent of taxes they have no legal obligation to pay moves the conversation forward.  Once we have collected the relevant data, the panel will be in the position to make a recommendation that can serve as a starting point for meaningful negotiations with the University.

 

I support the study of consolidation of the Township and Borough.  I believe consolidation is important for reasons not simply limited to finances.  We need to plan together as one community on issues such as transportation, public health, and disaster preparedness.  Route 206 and SR 27 move through both Borough and Township. H1N1 and other public health threats can be dealt with most efficiently by cooperation between the Borough and Township.  The storm this past March did not discriminate between trees in the Borough and trees in the Township.  In these challenging times, we need to work together to set priorities for the larger community.  If the citizens agree that consolidation is critical, I believe that I have the ability to reach out to all stakeholders in both communities and work collaboratively with our colleagues in the Township to complete this very challenging task.

 

Finally, I will work to improve the use of technology to deliver services more efficiently to residents.  I would expand our voluntary email list and advocate more active use to notify residents about changes in trash pick-up, traffic patterns or emergency alerts.  I believe we can use our website to greater advantage.  I would like to see more Borough documents, including the budget, available on the website.  We have the ability to be much more transparent through technology, something I believe will increase citizen participation.  I would like to see us add video to the website.  Imagine, for example, Sustainable Princeton demonstrating creating a compost bin or the Arts Council showcasing a program.  The Borough announced recently that they will save $40,000 by changing the lighting in the Library garage.  Let’s get that posted on the website!  Homeowners can use that information in their own homes, and it lets residents know that their government is being responsive.  The only limit is our imagination.

 

I think it is time for a fresh perspective on the Borough Council.  With your support, I will work hard to be the sort of servant leader Princetonians deserve. 

 

I have two remaining campaign events this coming week.  One event is in the morning, and the other is in the evening, both in the eastern section of town.  If you would like to attend, please contact me through my website www.jobutler.comor by calling 468-0462.

 

Thank you for your consideration.  See you at the polls on June 8!

 

Sincerely,

Jo Butler

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Anne Waldron Neumann's Statement (June 2010 primary)

TWENTY PUBLIC POLICY PUZZLES FOR PRINCETONIANS

ANNE WALDRON NEUMANN

 

Answers at http://anneneumann.weebly.com

 

  1. What is Euclidean zoning?  (Hint:  It doesn't mean dividing building lots into squares and triangles.)  How does form-based zoning differ, and which should we use in Princeton? 
  2. What kind of stores on Main Street lower crime? 
  3. According to a Danish study, you will leave hospital several days sooner and suffer fewer complications if you can see what from your window?
  4. The Princeton Ridge is a terminal moraine.  True or false? 
  5. How might you and your neighbors organize a friendly competition to lose 5,000 pounds each of ugly carbon emissions?  
  6. You're going to plant some trees.  Do you know how to calculate their cost-saving benefits?  Then on what side of your house should you plant the maple?  The pine?  How far above the horizon is our noonday sun in summer?  What about in winter? 
  7. What is a SID?  What is a PILOT?  What does COAH stand for?  What about BRT? Might any of these have something to do with Princeton University?  (For extra points, if you know what BRT is, then what's the difference between BRT, PRT, and PAT? How soon could we get one, and what would it cost? 
  8. Should our joint Borough-Township tax assessor file yearly compliance plans? 
  9. For every dollar of sales, how much do big-box stores contribute to the local economy?  What about independent stores? 
  10. What's a watershed?  Oh, you know the answer?  Then what's a riparian buffer zone, and how does it help prevent eutrophication from nonpoint source leachate? 
  11. Where could we put a business incubator, whatever THAT is? 
  12. How do a major site plan and a minor site plan with variances differ? 
  13. What is a Page 8 Formula, and how will it affect Princeton property taxes in 2010? 2011? 2012? 
  14. Can we learn anything from Palm Beach about shopping downtown?  (Hint:  This isn't about replacing The Coach Store with Hermes.) 
  15. What did an 1854 New Jersey Supreme Court decision say about Town/Gown relations? 
  16. What slows traffic in a residential neighborhood—other than speed bumps, bump-outs, and potholes? 
  17. What's a formula business?  Does Bristol, Rhode Island, have any?  Do we? 
  18. How does New Jersey define an “Area in Need of Redevelopment,” and what can a town do if it has one?  (Personal note:  I would NEVER decide that residential neighborhoods need redevelopment.) 
  19. What is LEED compliance—or LEED-like compliance?  Which is better, why is it important, and how can a town ensure it? 
  20. How does Seattle make pedestrian crosswalks safer—with something you can buy at the dollar store? 
  21. Bonus question:  How can we remove chewing gum stains from Nassau Street sidewalks?
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Roger Martindell statement (June 2010 primary)

Dear PCDO'ers:
 
My experience as a Democrat serving you on Borough Council has taught me how to develop conservative fiscal policies that save you tax money and liberal social policies that foster social and economic diversity in our community.
 
Along the way, I have challenged Conventional Wisdom.  By doing so, I have helped make government more responsive to you whom it serves.  I prefer to solve problems not by the conventional approach of throwing tax money at them but by operating smarter.
 
So that I may continue that work, I ask for your support for re-election in the June 8 Democratic Primary.
 
I suggest you click on the following link to see the three candidates for Borough Council each make their own case for election, as filmed last week by our own TV30.  You will see all three of us at work, both in style and substance.  The films are really very interesting!
 
Here's the link: http://www.princetontv.org/pctv/candidates.html
 
I do thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity that you have given me to serve as your Councilman.  I hope you will allow me the opportunity to continue to do so.
 
Roger Martindell
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Rush Holt Campaign Headquarters Open for volunteers

 

Starting May 15, Rush Holt's campaign office will be open and is looking for volunteers to help keep Democrats in the majority in Congress.

 

See the campaign website for more information.

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Candidate Campaign Statements

ROGER MARTINDELL - CAMPAIGN STATEMENT

Dear PCDO Colleagues:

           To prompt a lively dialogue at the PCDO endorsement meeting this Sunday, I want to draw your attention to a few specific issues facing Princeton Borough and Township. 

           Traditionally, many believed that Princetonians don’t cast their votes in local races based on municipal property tax issues because “residents are willing to pay for quality services”.  Whatever the truth of that belief in a strong economy, clearly that belief is not widespread in the current fiscal climate.  That’s why I am proud that in 2009 the Borough had a zero percent tax increase and is on target for accomplishing a zero percent tax increase this year too. 

           The traditional belief about taxes was predicated on a false dichotomy: that quality municipal services depend on tax increases.  But quality municipal services can be achieved by operating smarter local government.

           I am committed to smarter local government, and I ask you for the opportunity to continue that work.  Here are a few illustrative issues that will define whether our municipal government will deliver quality municipal services without increasing taxes:  

  • Aggressively pursue our downtown developer to collect unpaid amounts due 
  • Rigorously negotiate with public employee unions to cap salary increases and obtain greater contributions from employees toward health care benefits 
  • Privatize the operation of the municipal garage to reduce unforeseen expenses 
  • Develop more shared services with Princeton Township, including shared police, park maintenance, and public works facilities 
  • Mount a public education/legislative campaign to obtain a larger contribution from tax-exempt non-profits, which own 50% of Borough land 
  •  Develop policies to mitigate the devastating effect of revaluation on the John/Witherspoon neighborhood, and use accumulated affordable housing trust funds to that end 
  • Create a park master plan so that all Borough parks are better maintained at reasonable cost
  •  

Such issues require thoughtful attention and a willingness not to be bound by tradition.  I offer that attention, and that willingness, as the hallmarks of my candidacy for Borough Council.

I look forward to speaking with you at Sunday’s endorsement meeting.  Thank you for your consideration

   Roger Martindell

 

ANNE WALDRON NEUMANN – CAMPAIGN STATEMENT

 

YES, WE CAN HAVE A MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINBLE PRINCETON

            Through serving on the Princeton Environmental Commission (2005-9), I learned many practical ways to make Princeton a greener community.  I am convinced, moreover, that Princeton can balance environmental protection with economic prosperity and social cohesion.  If these goals sometimes conflict in the short term, sensible compromise is always possible. 

            ON BOROUGH COUNCIL I WILL support an ordinance that offers incentives to residents and developers who follow a green-building checklist.  I will encourage a pilot green-jobs training program for teens who can help protect their neighbors' homes from winter cold and summer heat.  And I will urge Council and the Planning Board to evaluate new development for its environmental and social benefits to the community as well as for its economic contribution. 

“[Environmental] Commission member Anne Neumann, demonstrating a firm grasp of political dynamics, responded . . . by advising her colleagues, 'I think we have to declare victory.'  Sage advice, indeed.”

 —Princeton Packet editorial on my support for Robert Hillier's Princeton Ridge senior housing plan, February 2009

 

YES, WE CAN HAVE A MORE PROSPEROUS AND AFFORDABLE PRINCETON

            From serving on PCDO's Local Issues Committee (2006-present), I know that the Borough is in New Jersey's 51st percentile—average—in per capita municipal spending.  Nevertheless, we're in the 94th percentile—far above average—in taxes per homeowner, largely due to Princeton University.  Almost half the Borough belongs to the University, for one thing, and most of that half is tax exempt.  The University cannot leave Borough residents and businesses to cover the shortfall between those 51st and 94th percentiles. 

            ON BOROUGH COUNCIL I WILL follow the Local Issues Committee's resolve:  increased revenue from the University must go only to relieve property taxes.  This relief is especially necessary since revaluation has shifted Borough taxes away from wealthy households toward families in mid-priced homes.  Our state's Homestead Rebate and Senior Freeze also offer tax relief, and Borough Council could help publicize and explain these options.  On Council, I will also explore the benefit to the Borough of an economic-development coordinator, beginning with a volunteer.  I will work with colleagues to consider a Special Improvement District, which could include not only downtown businesses but also Princeton University.  And I will support consolidation, believing that it must lower municipal costs. 

"Anne demonstrates a welcome depth and breadth of knowledge about local issues,

and brings a fresh, constructive approach to solutions."

—Alan Hegedus, President, Princeton Regional School Board

 

YES, WE CAN HAVE A MORE COOPERATIVE AND NEIGHBORLY PRINCETON

            After serving on Princeton Future's Community-Based Neighborhood Retail initiative (2002-2005), I became even more convinced that a sense of neighborhood and a vibrant downtown are both important to a community's sense of social cohesion.  Princeton Borough offers what most communities only dream of:  a compact layout, tree-lined streets, a diverse population in varied housing, the facilities of a fine university—these amenities must be preserved.  Princeton also offers a downtown many Borough residents can walk to, central parking for those who can't, coffee shops, ice cream, attractive public spaces, a library.  And yet a major opportunity for social cohesion is lost since few Princetonians shop downtown anymore. 

            ON BOROUGH COUNCIL I WILL encourage policies that preserve the Borough's assets and foster social cohesion.  I will introduce ordinances to balance the playing field between formula stores and the local shops that serve residents as well as tourists.  Form-based zoning can help preserve neighborhood character in Princeton's more densely-built streets.  More Borough parks need renovation shaped by their neighbors' wishes and realized with their cooperation.  I will also advocate for a teen center.  I support affordable housing.  And, to increase Princeton's sense of participatory democracy, I will urge Borough Council to publicize its achievements more proactively. 

"I have always found Anne Neumann courageous in holding to her principles and honest in defending

her positions, not to mention that she is kind, warmhearted, and truly loves the Princeton community."

—David Newton, Palmer Square Management LLC

 

NICHOLAS KARP - CAMPAIGN STATEMENT

Friends,

Princeton and the state of New Jersey are in unprecedented fiscal crisis. Average property taxes in the Borough increased 80% between 2000 and 2008. On current trends the typical homeowner will end up with a $26,000 property tax bill before Barack Obama leaves office. My home, family, and friends are here. I love this town and dearly hope we find a way to keep it livable.

Trends, unfortunately, are worsening. New Jersey had $103 billion in unfunded pensions and benefits in 2008. Health care costs are rising. The state is cutting support to municipalities to balance its own budget. Meanwhile, the feeble economy increases costs and reduces tax revenue.

In this environment, I submitted my name for endorsement based on the following qualifications:

            *Extensive experience in finance and consulting – I began my career at Booz, Allen and have since consulted in many areas of financial services. I know how to read financials, crunch numbers, and unravel problems.

            *The ability to focus more than part-time on Princeton’s issues – My time is my own and I have a lot to spare. Keeping Princeton affordable and developing long-term solutions will require considerable time and effort – I’m in a position to make that investment.

            *Recent CPA training, including governmental accounting and cost management – New Jersey’s statutory financial reporting and budgeting are not intuitive. I have the training to dissect the numbers and propose constructive solutions.

            *A strategic emphasis – Many of the challenges facing Princeton can’t be solved within our borders. Consequently I have been working to build knowledge and relationships outside, as well as inside, Borough government. I have reached out to the university, the township, and the school district. I also have an ongoing dialogue with NJ’s auditor for the past decade, one of the people who best understands the big picture in this state, productive areas for reform, and ways things get done here.

However, after considering the other candidates on the slate, at least two share my focus on fiscal prudence: Jo Butler and Roger Martindell. Either will provide similar emphasis on cost control and long term fiscal strategy. (Not to detract from Mr. Koontz, who is seeking higher office, nor Ms. Neumann, whom I know not at all.)

Grateful for at least two qualified candidates, I’ve decided to withdraw my candidacy. I’ll continue working behind the scenes to resolve the challenges facing our community.

Sincerely,

Nick Karp

 

JO BUTLER - CAMPAIGN STATEMENT

Dear Fellow PCDO Member,

I respectfully seek your endorsement for a seat on Borough Council.

New Jersey is facing a financial crisis.  If Princeton Borough is to emerge unscathed, we need new ideas and fresh leadership.  With an MBA from Northwestern and a background in finance, I believe I am the best-qualified candidate to meet the challenges we currently face. If I am elected to the Borough Council, I will help to plan and prepare for Princeton’s future in the following ways:

 ·         Fiscal Responsibility and Transparency I am the Chair and a founding member of the Finance Advocacy Taskforce, an organization of local businessmen and concerned citizens who are dedicated to making the municipal budget more accessible and transparent to the citizens.  If elected, I will work to make the budget and the budgeting process more open and available to Borough residents.  I believe there are things we can and should do to mind our own budget during these precarious, fiscally challenging times.

 ·         Improving Community Services through Updated Information Technology I would work to create an email database so simple reminders and new information can be sent to residents in a timely fashion.  Road closings, leaf pick-ups, and tax due dates are examples of the sorts of things we might do at little expense, but great service to our citizens.  As a town without a local television news station, it is critically important that the Borough website become the reliable go-to place for up-to-date information. I will work to make certain that it is.

 ·         Exploring the Benefits of Consolidation With my background in finance, I am in a unique position to understand the complex numbers involved in the effort to consolidate our municipalities. But the possible benefits of consolidation were driven home in a much more tangible way by the storm of this past weekend. We need to be planning together for emergencies and disaster preparedness. This past week, having clear roadways – whether they were in the Borough or the Township – was the most important concern for all citizens.  Whether it is a health emergency, extreme weather, or simply the quality of our provided services, there are many reasons why planning as one community makes a great deal of sense.

I am a thirteen-year resident of the Borough, and have been an active community volunteer since my arrival. I work for Wickenden Associates, an educational consulting firm, and I have served on the Executive Board of the PCDO, as well as being the chair of the Citizens Finance Advocacy Taskforce.  I served for ten years on the Friends of the Princeton Public Library, and I am on the Board of People and Stories/Guente y Cuentos.

I hope you will support me in my effort to serve the citizens of Princeton. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at jo.butler@verizon.net.

 

Sincerely,

Jo Butler

 

LIZ LEMPERT - CAMPAIGN STATEMENT

Dear Fellow Democrat,

I want to thank you for your past encouragement and endorsement, and for helping elect me to a one-year term on Township Committee this past November. I wish to continue my work on Committee and am now seeking a full 3-year term, and I ask once again for your endorsement.

My time on Township Committee has coincided with some of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. I am keenly aware of the pressure Princeton’s taxes put on our residents, and I’m committed to trimming the Township’s budget everywhere we can and identifying outside sources of funding for vital programs and projects.

At the same time, I’ve fought to hold the line at cutting services for those in our community that are most in need of help. As liaison to the joint Borough-Township Human Services Commission, I’ve worked to preserve the programs offered by that department including welfare (general assistance) administration, currently received by 51 residents, an all-time high.

As liaison to the Environmental Commission and the Joint Pedestrian and Bike Advisory Committee, I am passionate about Princeton's environment and protecting it for future generations. I introduced the Princeton Ridge Resolution, and will continue to facilitate the preservation of environmentally sensitive tracts of undeveloped land through private-public partnerships.

As the storms of last August and last weekend have reminded us, Princeton is vulnerable to flooding, and managing our stormwater is key to keeping us safe and protecting our property. In the coming year, I plan to work with our stormwater consultant and the Flood and Stormwater Management Committee to revise and strengthen the Township’s stormwater ordinance.

Chris Christie’s budget cuts may have stalled the creation of a Study Commission to look into consolidation and joint services, but I am committed to finding alternative sources of funding, if necessary, to get the process back on track.

If you have suggestions for how to make the Township operate more efficiently, or have questions or ideas you'd like to share, please email or call me at lizlemp@gmail.com or 609-468-3317.

Thanks for your consideration!

Liz Lempert

Township Committee

Lance Liverman - Campaign Statement

To:    PCDO Members:

From:   Lance Liverman (member of Princeton Township Committee)

It has truly been an honor and pleasure to serve on Princeton Township Committee. I have from day one understood that my job is to serve the people in the Princeton Community.  I have never waivered or forgotten the importance of having an affordable, diverse, welcoming and progressive understanding community.  I am asking that PCDO continues to support me for Township Committee.

My two terms on Township Committee have been very productive. I have been able to work with neighborhoods when installation of sidewalks and total re-construction of streets are proposed to be done. I have assisted our engineering dept. when public input about the project(s)  are discussed.  I have also been very instrumental along with the rest of Township Committee in keeping the Affordable Housing funds available.

When Princeton Township and portions of Mercer County were experiencing massive gang activities,  I was appointed by Township Committee to form a task force to see what could be done to help with the problems.  With pulling the tremendous resources we have in Princeton (Princeton Human Services, Corner House, Princeton Public Library and Corner House) we discussed how we could begin to address the gang activity problem.  This led to the creation of the Princeton Youth Project. This program is managed and run through Corner House with funding assistance from Mercer County.  The program is saving young people lives everyday.

I have said on many occasions that I am not a career politician.  I still stand behind that statement.  With so many large items on the table for the next few years I feel that I am well suited to deal with these issues.  Township Committee will be deciding on issues such as Consolidation (Borough and Township), new Community Park Pool Complex, the use of Valley Road School (Witherspoon st. portion) and the River Road expansion (Public Works) to name a few.

 

I am asking that  PCDO Members will continue to believe that one person can make a difference.  I would like to Thank you in advance for your continued support.

 

Lance Liverman

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