Princeton Council introduces this year’s budget at the March 28 meeting

Princeton council introduced the municipal budget at its meeting Monday. This year, Princeton homeowners with an average home valued at $810,191 will see an approximate $110 tax increase if the final budget is approved.

The budget totals $61.9 million with  a $730,234, or 1.2 percent, increase from the 2015 budget of $61.2  million.

According to Princeton Administrator Marc Dashield, the increase in the budget was due to health insurance, which increased $255,004, pension, up $163,900 from last year, and debt service, up $249,000. Fifty-three percent of the budget is paid for by taxpayer dollars. Other revenues come from, in order of percent from greatest to least: sewer revenues, 11 percent; surplus, 10 percent; special revenues and Princeton University share payment, 5 percent; state aid, 4 percent; local revenues, 3 percent; PILOTS, municipal court, utility surplus and receipt from delinquent taxes, 2 percent; and grants, 1 percent.

Dashield explained the initial budget estimate was roughly $700,000 higher than the introduced budget.

“There’s been quite a bit of work prior to this presentation of the budget,” Dashield said at the council meeting. “This budget reflects a significant decrease in police salary and wages. We had a number of retirements. The savings you see in salary and wages for the police would not be as significant if not for the policy decision made by council earlier to provide incentives to have officers retire early in February instead of July of this year. As a result, you’ll see a $99,000 reduction in police salary and wages for this year.”

Dashield also stated the town has introduced three new staff members in recreation and open space maintenance. This increased total salaries and wages by 0.2 percent in the current fund budget.

This year, the town had a finance committee, which consisted of Councilwoman Jo Butler and Councilmen Patrick Simon and Bernie Miller, that worked alongside the municipal administration to create the budget.

“It’s certainly at a much better spot than when we were initially hearing the reports,” Mayor Liz Lempert said of the budget. “I want to thank you for your work.”

“We are moving in the right direction,” Dashield said, noting that this year’s budget, while higher than the 2015 budget, is $743,526, or 1.2 percent, less than the budget five years ago. “We are in good shape.”

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida