Differences arise over borough’s tax rate

Should the tax increase be 3.5 cents, 4.5 cents or something in between?

By: Jennifer Potash
   Princeton Borough’s $18.5 million budget for 2002 is ready for introduction at tonight’s council meeting, but the administration and at least one member of the governing body have differing opinions on the proposed tax rate.
   Councilman Roger Martindell, chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, said the committee is recommending a 3.5-cent tax increase that would raise the tax rate to 67.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
   Under the Finance Committee proposal, the owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $346,639 would pay $2,340 in municipal taxes, an increase of $121 or 5.5 percent.
   Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi said the administration is recommending a 4.5-cent tax increase to follow a more "conservative position on the revenue side."
   He favors leaving a larger cushion in the borough’s $1.5 million surplus account.
   The 4.5-cent tax increase would raise the tax rate to 68.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, an increase of 7 percent.
   With that rate, the owner of a home assessed at the borough average of $346,639 would pay $2,374 in municipal taxes, compared to $2,219 last year.
   "It could be 3.5 cents or 4.5 cents or something in between," Mr. Bruschi said.
   The borough also has a 1-cent open-space tax.
   "More than $400,000 has been trimmed from the budget proposal, with the largest reductions coming from the operating budget," Mr. Bruschi said. Any further reductions would mean staff layoffs or cuts in borough programs, he added.
   The borough’s aid from the state remained at 2001 levels, Mr. Bruschi said. The budget could be adopted by mid-June, Mr. Bruschi said.
   In other action tonight, the council in closed session will continue its deliberations regarding selection of a developer for the downtown parking garage project. Keating Development Corp. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and Nassau Capital Advisors of Vandeventer Avenue are the two developer finalists for the job. Borough officials said the selection would be made later this month.