PRINCETON: Task force holds first meeting

By Lea Kahn and Victoria Hurley-Schubert, Staff Writers
   Seeking to get down to the nuts and bolts of re-making Princeton Borough and Princeton Township into one municipality, the Transition Task Force held its organizational meeting Tuesday at the Princeton Township Municipal Building.
   Many borough and township employees, including both police chiefs, were seated in the audience, which filled half of the main meeting room.
   The task force includes borough residents Hendricks Davis, Mark Freda and Brad Middlekauff, and township residents Dorothea Berkhout, Linda Mather and Scott Sillars. The borough alternate member is Jim Levine, and the township alternate is Gary Patteson.
   Elected officials serving on the task force include borough Mayor Yina Moore and Councilwoman Jo Butler, and township Mayor Chad Goerner and Committeeman Bernie Miller. Committeewoman Liz Lempert filled in for Mr. Miller, who was absent.
   Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi, Township Administrator James Pascale and a state Department of Community Affairs representative also sit on the task force, but they do not have voting privileges.
   In one of its first housekeeping chores, the task force elected Mr. Freda as its chairman and Mr. Sillars as its vice chairman. Mayor Moore suggested co-chairs, but the group opted for a chairman and a vice-chairman.
   Mr. Bruschi told the task force that he and Mr. Pascale “are here to help you.”
   Mr. Bruschi outlined some of the ground rules for the task force, such as what makes up a quorum. It was decided that a quorum would consist of three voting members from each municipality who are present at a meeting.
   Acknowledging that consolidation means merging borough and township departments into one department, Mr. Pascale said he and Mr. Bruschi met with KSS Architects to discuss a study of the spaces at the borough and township municipal buildings and where each department might be located.
   Hiring KSS Architects to undertake the space study makes sense, Mr. Bruschi said, because the architectural firm designed the township Municipal Building and is familiar with it. KSS Architects is located across the street from the township Municipal Building.
   Mayor Moore suggested tabling the space study, and Councilwoman Butler said that while she had no objection to hiring KSS Architects, she wanted to be certain that a department would not have to move twice. She said she wanted “the whole picture.”
   The task force decided to hold off on hiring KSS Architects until it has more information, such as an organizational chart for the departments and employees.
   The task force also bounced around the idea of an early retirement incentive plan as a means to handle staff reductions, but also postponed action on that proposal until it could gather more information.
   Following a brief discussion of subcommittees, it was decided to hold off on establishing them until after the task force has reviewed the work that Mr. Bruschi and Mr. Pascale have done. This includes projected organizational charts additional possible savings and other material.
   ”From that, we will set priorities and then from that we will figure out what subcommittees to set,” Mr. Freda said after the meeting.
   Decisions will require a majority of each municipality’s members.
   As for formal reports, “we will decide our own schedule,” said Mr. Freda.
   The group will meet next Wednesday night to continue its work. They will then meet every other Wednesday after that.