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Princeton Township Committee 1998

1998 VOTERS GUIDE

NON-PARTISAN ELECTION INFORMATION

Vote Tuesday, November 3, 1998

CANDIDATES FOR PRINCETON TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area is a nonpartisan, non-profit volunteer organization which works to promote active, informed participation of all citizens in their government. The League provides nonpartisan information on public issues, and takes action on issues after member study and consensus. In publishing this material, the League neither endorses nor rejects the views of any candidate quoted.

All candidate information in this guide was compiled from candidates' responses to questionnaires. Replies are printed in the candidates' own words, without editing or verification. Due to space limitation, the candidates were given a word limit for replies. Words in excess of the limit are deleted and indicated by an asterisk (*).

Reprinting of this guide in part or in whole is not permissible without written permission of the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area.

Copyright 1998 by the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area

The League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area submitted the following three questions to all candidates for Princeton Township Committee:

1. How do you propose to reduce speeding, ensure pedestrian safety, and relieve traffic congestion within Princeton Borough?

2. Should the level of local property taxes be controlled, and if so, how would you address this issue?

3. The Property Tax Relief Commission may recommend state financial incentives to municipalities to consolidate or share services. What additional services would you consider Princeton Township might share with the Borough?

CANDIDATES FOR PRINCETON TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE

Vote for TwoTerm: 3 years

TOM ABRAMS
Party: The Libertarian Party
74 Dogwood Hill, Princeton NJ 08540
Age: 61

Occupation: Creative and Marketing Services Director

Education: Columbia University (BA) Baruch School of Bussiness (MBA)

Organizations: President, Dogwood Hill Property Owners Association

Responses:

1. REDUCE SPEEDING. Greater police surveillance and ticketing are the immediate check to speeding. Longer term, we should try unattended road cameras that photograph speeders so summons can be issued. This approach is used extensively in England and Scotland to discourage speeding.

PEDESTRIAN SAFETY. Crosswalks must have highly visible signs, perhaps with battery-operated blinking caution signals. Where possible, sidewalks should be installed on busy streets.

BOROUGH CONGESTION. Consider, if practical, fee-for-service jitneys that shuttle to the borough from parking areas in the township.

2. Property taxes. The largest, school tax, must be controlled by citizens at the ballot box. Turnout is meager for school board and budget balloting, so people must look to themselves if taxes rise. Longer term, we need more competition for the public school system. It sharpens thinking, reduces cost and results in a better product. This would require a state decision to have a specified amount of money follow the student. Parents could then choose the school best suited to their children, public or private. With lead time, the education market would react to the new demand.
County tax is the second largest levy. Counties, however, have outlived their purpose as centers of government for an agrarian society. Connecticut eliminated them in the 1960s. New Jersey should do the same, now. Redundant services, waste, improper spending and patronage can be rooted out and anything worthwhile remaining left to the state, towns, voluntary organizations and the marketplace to handle.
Municipal tax is the smallest levy. The town should focus on infrastructure and police, fire and emergency service. Voluntary funding for recreation and assistance could cut spending. The library could be funded on a fee-for-service and voluntary contribution basis, and be run by private management to cut cost and improve efficiency.

3. I see no opportunity for major sharing or consolidation with the borough.


DOROTHY L. BEDFORD
Party: The Republican Party
Age: 42
Address: 492 Prospect Avenue, Princeton, 08540

Occupation: Community Volunteer, homemaker, parent. Former Executive Director, 250th Anniversary of Princeton University.

Education: A.B. Princeton University, 1978. M.B.A. Harvard Business School, 1982.

Significant Community Activities: Riverside School P.T.O., Girl Scout Troop Leader.

1 Speeding, pedestrian safety, and traffic congestion in Princeton requires a combination of local action and regional cooperation. Speed limits on Township arteries must be enforced. Truck traffic must be shifted away from Route 206 by reducing tolls on the Turnpike, enforcing weight limits and otherwise convincing long haul truck drivers to avoid Princeton. The Township is hostage to its geography, receiving the side effects of growth both internally and in surrounding towns, as commuters, shoppers, seniors, and parents circulate via automobile on their usual rounds. I will push for regional traffic patterns to improve the quality of life for our community, while protecting the interests of neighborhoods. Finally, as a longtime bicycle commuter, I look forward to advancing the Bikeways proposals.

2 Property taxes need to be managed responsibly. First, we should recognize that our tax base will not allow everything to be done at once. Spending priorities must be established so essential services are performed and new projects are phased in over time in a way which does not negatively impact our tax rate. Second, the Township's growth in commercial development has lagged behind the growth of housing and the related cost of services. A better balance between commercial and residential development must be achieved to mitigate the effect of municipal budget growth on residential property taxes. Third preservation of open space is a cost-effective way of stabilizing municipal services over the long run. I would therefore support the goal of having 25% of Township lands set aside for open space preservation.

3 Princeton Township and Princeton Borough already share a high percentage of services. Short of municipal consolidation, it seems unlikely that significant savings can be achieved within the Princetons. I believe we must take a close look at sharing services with adjacent municipalities and counties.


ROSLYN DENARD
Party: The Democratic Party
Age: 74
Address: 246 Jefferson Road, Princeton, 08540

Occupation: Princeton Township Committeewoman; formerly general manager of the Princeton Packet, Inc.

Education: B.A. University of Pennsylvania

Significant Community Activities: A member of the Princeton Township Committee; Wildlife Committee; liaison to the Historic Preservation Commission, the Environmental Commission, the Joint Commission on Aging, the Local Assistance Board, and the Regional School Board; set up the Joint Department of Human Services; Spirit of Princeton Committee; Building Committee for the new municipal building; township Personnel Committee; the Cost containment Committee; Action for Princeton Seniors; reading for the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic; C.H.I.M.E. (Counseling on Health Insurance for Medicare enrollees); Senior Resource Center; the Arts Council; the League of Women Voters; and the local AARP Chapter.

1. We have reduced speed limits on Rt.206 and set weight limits on certain Township streets. Traffic can be 'calmed' by reducing speed limits, making streets less attractive to trucks and through traffic and improving public transportation. Solving one streets problems by diverting traffic to another street is not the answer. This is a regional problem. We must work with organizations like STOP and with neighboring municipalities to realign the Millstone Bypass and keep Washington Road open. No additional traffic should be directed to local streets. Pedestrian safety can be better ensured by enforcing current laws that give pedestrians the right of way and by ticketing violators who speed, ignore stop signs and other rules of the road.

2. Yes and we are doing it effectively. The Township portion of our property tax is just 20.79% of our tax bill .The county is 26.73%; Regional School District 51.49%. We have kept the township increase to below 2.02 cents a year for the past 3 years. This is the smallest increase in Mercer county. Township Committee does its part. Only our lobbying and our votes can send the right people to Trenton to change the formula that finances our schools and county government.

3. We are constantly on the alert for consolidated services that will be financially beneficial to the Township. The Joint Cost Containment Committee, on which I serve, is working with the Borough and the Schools, to seek savings that can be gained from additional shared services. Currently under consideration are expanded joint purchasing, lawn maintenance programs, building trade services, leaf pick-up, shade tree programs and a municipal/school cable television studio at the high school. We have formulated a resolution asking the state to do a factual audit on how we provide services and to recommend additional cost saving opportunities.


PHYLLIS L. MARCHAND 
Party: The Democratic Party
Age: 58
Address: 29 Montadale Drive, Princeton, 08540

Occupation: Elected Official/Freelance Editorial Consultant and Book Indexer

Education: Skidmore College B.A.

Significant Community Activities: Mayor, Princeton Township; Princeton Township Committeewoman, 1987-present; Board of Health; Public Library Board; Regional Planning; Alcohol and Drug Alliance; Tax and Finance Committee; Open Space Commission; N.J. State League of Municipalities, Past President; N.J. Association for Elected Women Officials, Past President; McCarter Theater, Trustee; Pettoranello Foundation, Trustee; Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Board, Member; Princeton Task Force on Ethics Board, Member; Mercer County Hispanic Association, President; N.J. Community Foundation; Mercer Advisory Board

1. We were successful in persuading NJDOT to lower the speed limit along portions of Route 206, have authorized supplemental funding to give added resources to our Police Department to vigorously enforce our traffic laws, spent millions to rebuild many roadways, install traffic signals and construct sidewalks and bicycle paths to insure public safety. We've worked with our Planning Board, Township Traffic Safety Committee, Police and Public Works Departments, Princeton Borough, neighboring municipalities and State officials to insure that a regional approach is developed to resolve traffic-related problems. I endorsed these initiatives and if reelected, I intend to remain steadfast in my commitment to being an active participant and advocate for our motoring and pedestrian public.

2. Yes. We must work with the state legislators to revamp the way New Jersey taxes its citizens, and lobby for increased financial assistance for our schools. Seek sources of public and private funds, grants and low interest loans. Re-finance bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates. Structure needed capital improvements so payments are even and predictable. Re-evaluate our contributions from institutions to assure monies received cover the cost of services rendered. Monitor our tax exempt properties so any changes in tax law or in property use can be re-evaluated. One can lower property taxes by reducing services, but these services determine the quality of life in our community.

3. We lead the state in shared services! I would consider additional partnerships with the Borough, or any corporation both public or private if it provides Township taxpayers with quality services at a lower price than currently exists. We must not be enticed by state financial incentives, only to discover that the consolidated entity is more costly to operate and less efficient in its performance.


COLIN VONVORYS
Party: The Republican Party
Age: 36
Address: 238 Mount Lucas Road, 08540

Occupation: Product Sales Representative, Longview Solutions

Education: B.A. Annenberg School of Communications; University of Pennsylvania, Specializing in Systems, Organizations, and Policies

Significant Community Activities: Lifetime area resident; a member of the Princeton Joint Civil Rights Commission.

1. Princeton Township Committee has been conspicuously neglectful in keeping 18-wheel trucks and other large, inappropriate vehicles from using Route 206 as a major throughway. Not only is it a serious safety issue, but it also impacts the quality of life to all residents of our community. Township Committee should seek to build a coalition of neighboring communities to compel the state to provide better transportation alternatives.

I vigorously oppose the Millstone Bypass, which will most certainly increase traffic congestion throughout Princeton.

2. According to our tax assessor's office, only 20.7 percent of the property taxes collected in Princeton Township goes directly to the municipality. The other nearly 80 percent is divided between the county and our schools. So in effect, only a small percentage of our tax bill is actually controlled by Township Committee.

Another statistic courtesy of our tax assessor's office: Last year Princeton Township added nearly $31 million to our tax rolls. This equates to $450,000 in added revenue directly to the Township. Keeping spending the same as last year, this would actually produce a two-cent rollback in the property tax rate.

Current Township Committee has mismanaged the construction of the new municipal complex, as costs have soared to over 150% of those originally stated. By electing candidates with a background in business, we can do a better job of keeping property taxes down.

3. The Township and Borough have consolidated services where it makes sense and kept them separate where it makes sense. I do not foresee any future consolidation of boards or committees.

The issue of consolidation drove a wedge among the people of Princeton. It distracted us, delayed decisions, and put an unhealthy strain on our community. I would strive to put this issue behind us, move forward, and focus on the many factors that unite us.