Consolidation in Action: Princeton, NJ


For a long time, there was Princeton, NJ the borough and Princeton, NJ the township – not anymore. In 2011, residents voted to consolidate the neighboring municipalities and their merger took effect on January 1, 2013.

To coordinate the process, the new municipality created a task force. The Transition Task Force is comprised of twelve members: Five voting members each from the Borough and Township, and one alternate each. The Task Force also includes both the Borough and Township administrators. The Task Force is being assisted by the State Department of Community Affairs and other outside experts. This consolidation represents the joining of a relatively developed and economically stable borough, and a much more rural township. Despite their cultural differences, the merge was seen as having huge potential in cost-saving for both municipalities.

The two municipalities are in the process of overcoming budgeting differences, as they had previously allocated funds through different channels and were not able to merely combine their revenues and cut out the redundant departments. In order to make sure that the service and fiscal planning would aptly serve the new municipality, subcommittees were formed from the Transition Task Force and included Facilities, Finance, Infrastructure, Personnel and Public Safety. The state of New Jersey was also helpful in the transitional phases, offering 20 percent of cost reimbursement and funding an upgrade in the police information system. Special consideration went into ensuring that consolidation would not yield a decline in the services provided by either municipality. These services consist of trash collection, financial reporting, police staffing and relocating public facilities, among others.

In Pennsylvania, it’s been difficult to undertake such huge projects, but Renew Lehigh Valley has been advocating for consolidation since its inception and there has been some success. Right here in the Lehigh Valley, we have seen consolidation of police departments with the Colonial Regional Police Department that provides law enforcement services to Bath Borough, Hanover Township, and Lower Nazareth Township all in Northampton County.

Courage to Connect in New Jersey is holding a public meeting on June 5 to examine the case of Princeton, below is their information on the event:

This has been a remarkable year in NJ with the implementation of the Princeton Consolidation.
You are invited to:
Be Inspired by the success of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough becoming ONE town.
Learn from elected officials from around the state about their experience with school, police, fire and municipal consolidation.
Connect with innovative leaders in NJ, making a difference!
When: Wednesday June 5, 2013 from 8:00 AM to 12:30PM
Where: Princeton University
Robertson Hall, Dodds Auditorium
Prospect Ave at Washington Rd
Princeton, NJ

Seminar Schedule
8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:45 a.m. Welcome and Introduction
Gina Genovese, Executive Director, Courage to Connect NJ
8:50 – 10:00 a.m. Princeton: A Road Map to Follow
Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert
Princeton Councilwoman Heather Howard
Princeton Administrator Robert W. Bruschi
CGR President and CEO Joseph Stefko
10:00 – 10:15 a.m. A Path to Success
Former Princeton Township Mayor Chad Goerner
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Elected Officials Discuss their Experiences with Consolidation
Senator Bob Gordon – NJ District 38
Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli – NJ District 16
Freeholder Rob Walton – Hunterdon County
Mayor Paul Fernicola – Loch Arbour
11:30am – 12:30pm Benefits of Police and Fire Consolidation
President and CEO of Public Safety Solutions, Les Adams
Princeton Police Captain Nicholas Sutter
Princeton Police Lieutenant Christopher Morgan

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Posted on May 24, 2013, in About RenewLV, Education, Events, Housing, Municipal Government, Neighborhoods, Public Infrastructure, Regions, State Policy, Trends, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thanks for posting this Brittany.

    It is rare to see two jurisdictions consolidate — I suppose people don’t want to vote to eliminate their positions of power. I suspect the presence of university faculty & staff as voters in both jurisdictions — or maybe some in elected office — helped a lot.

    Another unique collaboration, much older, that illustrates that such a coalition can overcome obstacles is the Dresden School District, the first [and maybe the only] interstate school district — uniting the areas surrounding Hanover NH [home of Dartmouth College] and Norwich VT. Both areas had a significant number of people who work for the college, and they wanted to share resources to create a top-quality school system. As I understand it, the states resisted the idea, at least in the beginning. Eventually, it required federal legislation to establish a 2-state school district, but they managed to persevere and overcame that obstacle as well.

    I’m sure the Princeton consolidation also faced some strong resistance, some of it based on inertia and some of it based on people wanting to retain power. The presence of a few COGS in the Lehigh Valley is a start at opening up people’s thinking, but they don’t seem to have made as much progress as some of us hoped.

    Peter

  2. Thanks for your post on this important project. By way of additional information, I’d encourage readers to look at the official website for the entire Princeton consolidation process (www.cgr.org/princeton), from which process exhibits, reports and key information are accessible for BOTH the study phase AND the transition/implementation phase. The site was created and maintained by Princeton’s lead consultant and project manager since 2010, Rochester, NY-based CGR Inc. (www.cgr.org).

    Also, the report you link to in the post is technically a graduate student review of the implementation process. For more in-depth information on the Transition Task Force recommendations and process, be sure to see the Task Force’s official final report (compiled by CGR): http://www.cgr.org/princeton/transition/docs/TTFFinalReport2012.pdf.

    Interested in additional information? Contact CGR at enews@cgr.org.

  3. Thank you for the additional information, Joseph! Greatly appreciate the details and will certainly be using those links for more info.

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