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Help the Council Balance the Budget

In the wake of the tax referendum defeat Tuesday, Lawrenceville Patch wants to know what you would do to help balance the budget. Today, we ask about trash collection.

On Tuesday, voters said no to a proposed 9-cent municipal tax increase by a 2-1 margin.

On Wednesday, a told the council that it had better find alternatives to the trash collection fee being proposed.

Now, it is your turn to weigh in. Lawrenceville Patch will run a series of polls and open-ended questions over the next 10 days, asking township residents to outline their priorities and give the council a sense of where it needs to go with the budget.

The referendum, which sought permission to raise the municipal tax rate 9 cents above the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap, was , with more than 3,700 total votes cast.

Residents during Wednesday’s meeting told council members they felt council was arrogant and had tried to “blackmail” voters into approving the referendum by threatening to impose a trash user fee should the 9-cent tax hike be turned down.

Today, we focus on the trash collection issue:

Now that voters have rejected the township’s tax referendum should the council:

  • Continue to pay for trash collection through municipal taxes?
  • Charge residents a fee for collection with an ability to opt out?
  • Stop providing trash collection and require residents to contract out on their own?

Vote in the poll below and offer your suggestions in the comments.

Joe Friday April 23, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Larry, you are right, no police officers in suburban areas have ever died in the line of duty. Only urban police officers get shot at, never happens in suburbia. Only urban police officers die in car accidents, or get run over while doing their job. You are correct. A Lawrence officer did not crash a car last night while responding to a fight in progress and luckily walking away from the mangled car. Lawrence officers never deal with armed criminals or unruly people. Lawrence is Mayberry and a peaceful, happy, Utopia.
Jon April 23, 2012 at 09:37 PM
lots of good ideas. Bigger problem is school budget which is where most of the property tax money goes - 1 example- Why did they need to split the intermediate school into an upper and lower school with 2 principles? Those administrator salaries are a killer !!!
Jon April 23, 2012 at 09:56 PM
"We did come in at about a half-million dollars below cap [in the rejected budget]. And there’s actually a limit to how low we can go,” Waters said. “We would be in violation of state law if we cut too much. Lawrence BOE president L. Waters What State laws are these and who makes them?
Sammy April 24, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Very simple. You want to keep your police colleagues employed? Start writing tickets to bring in the money to pay for them.
Shel April 24, 2012 at 12:46 PM
I live and work in Lawrenceville. This morning I finally saw what has been needed in this township for a very long time. I saw 5 police cars sitting on Princeton Pike waiting for people speeding and 2 of them had people pulled over! This needs to be done on a more consistent basis. I also walk my dog up + down Princeton Pike and I can tell you first hand, that I see people doing 40 - 50 MPH on a regular basis; it doesn't just happen in the morning. Post more officers on Princeton Pike write more tickets and we won't have to worry about laying anyone off! Sammy is right, its very simple!
TPG April 24, 2012 at 12:58 PM
If this is true, Shel, it's welcomed news and a great development. I've commented on this site several times about the revenue possibilities regarding speeding on Princeton Pike. Honestly, it's easy money, with the added benefit of eventually making it safer for the hundreds of kids in the area who walk to the three schools.
Richard April 24, 2012 at 01:46 PM
TPG, thank you for understanding. I am not criticizing the LT police force. They do a wonderful job here. It is a big part of a police officers job to write tickets to those who disobey the traffic laws. Why bother having stop signs and, traffic lights if nobody is going to be penalized when ignored ? If the chief would designate one officer a day and, rotate the hot spots like Princeton Pike, Denow Road, Lawrence Road side streets, etc....money would be generated and, eventually folks will learn to obey our laws. To No Nonsense, I can understand being emotional about loving a police officer or firemen, I have been there myself, I am not ignorant. Are fireman to stop running into burning homes to save lives because they might get hurt, are police to never pull over a speeding car because they could get hurt? These actions are what they signed up for and, where aware of when they joined the force. Millions of police in USA are engaged with traffic violators everyday because it is part of their job requirement. Folks, we need to be more polite on this site. Don't assume the negative in someone, we are all trying to help here not, start wars amongst each other.
Richard April 24, 2012 at 01:52 PM
That is good news. How many times I have to pull over because the driver behind me riding on my rear bumper. They speed past me and, I always wish there would be an officer somewhere to catch them. There are alot of children on Princeton Pike and, we need to protect them.
NO NONSENSE April 24, 2012 at 03:47 PM
You missed the point Richard, due to the fact that Lawrence Police is short on manpower and are required by the administration to answer every call from Ambulance, Loose Dog, Neighbor Disputes, Alarms, Water Leaks, Ect.... to Domestic Violence, Robbery, Fights, Rapes, Ect. The time isn't there anymore the way it used to be. Some of the Workload could be Reduced maybe, and a lot of the calls that police respond to could be reported online by the public but, if the public calls the police have to respond. If one cop is designated to stop cars and everyone else is tied up on something...Where is his/her back up. Police aren't afraid to stop cars, they just don't have the time to be everyone anymore.
NO NONSENSE April 24, 2012 at 03:55 PM
In 2011: Two officers chased a stolen vehicle while the suspects threw loaded guns out of the window, 2 officers chased a suspect into a home who was armed with a sledgehammer, another officer had a standoff with a rapist/kidnapper who pulled a knife on the officer and had just thrown his firearm out, officers responded to an armed robbery of a jewelry store where a gun was shown... I could keep going. Hopefully this will open your eyes. If not , for your sake, I hope Karma is just an idea.
NO NONSENSE April 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM
This is great but, while the police are on Princeton Pike writing tickets, don't complain when your house gets broken into because the police in this town are "Lazy." You can't have your cake...and tickets too.
Patrick April 24, 2012 at 04:54 PM
the funny thing is you are rejecting a tax and another tax for a nuisance tax. New York City under Bloomberg started toe taxes by ticketing, and it hasn't really worked out. Once you open the door to not coming to a complete stop coming out of your neighborhood, the next is bikes riding on sidewalks, police driving through parking lots looking for expired inspection, etc etc. Its a tax. and its the sort of tax you don't plan for, and its not always the bad drivers. Its the mom distracted and going 35 in a 25 as her kids scream in the back after a long day at work, its the dad in a rush to pick up the kids. Not to mention much of the cost of a ticket in't profit to the township, even if they clear $40 a ticket, thats 55,000 tickets needed to get the cash needed. or 150 a day. and you want people to come shop here.... if there is a safety issue with a road, report it, but don't think making trained police officers traffic cops is the answer either. and when you get that ticket for failing to make a complet stop when turning onto 206 and your car insurance goes up... thank the friendly voters of LT.
TPG April 24, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Patrick, it's one thing not to come to a complete stop, it's another to be going 50 mph in a 25 mph zone on a road lined with three schools. There is zero exaggeration in that statement - I see it every day. Not to be morbid, but if the "distracted" mom or the "dad in a rush" plows into your kid, are you going to want to cut him or her a break? And I don't think anyone has suggested that the budget shortfall will be made up for entirely by ticketing. But this is easy, guaranteed, recurring money - it's a no brainer, and from the sound of our budget situation, we can't be choosy. NO NONSENSE - I don't even know what your comment means. Is it somehow demeaning for cops to be doing their jobs by writing tickets and keeping the road safe?
Harry Hartman April 24, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Looking at this whole thing from an outsiders point of view, I think the town and some of its people have this thing upside down! If I'm reading correctly, you want to cut the recreation department totally out and lay off police officers among other things. From past experience, wouldn't you think not providing programs for young people would keep those same young families from moving to town? If you cut police officers, don't you think that crime will go up (as it currently) according to the crime statistics that I am looking at? Schools and safety/security are the reason why most people move to a town. If you have neither good schools or a high crime rate wouldn't that keep quality people from moving to the town and the crime rate to futher increase? Why not make cuts to the senior citizen programs instead? I'd venture to say that the young families far outweigh the senior population. Also, when looking at a study done of the police department, it seems to me that the department in terms of numbers is pretty much on. If you go below what was recommended than you are surely going to negatively effect the crime rate. The only thing I see from that study is that it appears that the police department might be top heavy....From what I have read the Chief has enough years to retire....I would say that if he has any humility what so every he would do just that to save a few young officers and keep them on the road. Demote the Deputy to a Lieutentant and hire a director!
Harry Hartman April 24, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Unfortunately,layoffs are inevitable! Try to keep them to a minimum! Remember, those young officers that are going to be layed off are the future of that department. In an open council meeting several years ago, I heard the Chief speak about retirements. Something to the affect that several officers will be retiring in a very short period of time. If you cut things to the bare bones then what will happen when all of these officers retire. From what I understand, it takes approximately one year to hire and train a new officer. Does the town have a contingency plan for when there is a mass retirement within the ranks of the LPD? These are just some things to think about? Please don't cancel all of the kids programs in town and lower the ranks of a necessary service such as the police. Other towns around Lawrence have gone through a demographic influx for the worse over the last several years. Lets not let Lawrenceville be the same way! Once crime and disorder have set itself in a location, it's almost impossible to get rid of it! The bottom line, bad schools, no recreations programs for kids and a high crime rate leads to lower property values and less taxes being collected which in turn means more of a finacial crisis down the road!!
larry April 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM
No one is saying to try to balance the budget with writhing tickets and it a police officers job to ticket offenders. What do you want them to do just ride around all day and hope they come across a crime being committed. Cuts should be spread around no sense making deep cuts in any single department
No NonSENSE April 24, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Larry do yourself and everyone a favor and stop posting. You only make yourself look unintelligent. FYI, a Mayberry (Lawrence) store (CVS) was robbed today. So just one more to add to the list I posted above.
larry April 25, 2012 at 08:00 AM
It should be no sense not no nonsense.
Numb April 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM
"Harry" you do a terrible job trying to mask your career as a township cop. Let's hope your better at your job then you are making up fake names and trying to hide your identity by overstating your point.
Harry Hartman April 25, 2012 at 05:07 PM
"Numb" Nuts, try using proper grammer...."YOUR"....elementary school stuff! I hope that you are better at doing your job than you are at guessing peoples professions because strike three my friend! Sometimes the truth hurts....obviously you may be personally affected by this and that's why you feel the need to try and put peoples opinions down!
Jake April 25, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Larry...actually you are the one without sense based on some of your comments. One, for assuming that Lawrence Twp. is Mayberry really reveals your ignorance and isolation to the realities of policing in this township and anywhere for that matter. If you don't think guns, drugs and criminals of all sorts pass through this town on a daily basis being that we (1) border Trenton and (2) being that Route 1 and 95 are two major arteries that cut through Lawrence which connect the cesspools of NYC and Philadelphia, you are surely simple-minded. And I'm not placing all blame on you for your ignorance, but don't speak with command when you are uneducated as to the topic at hand...unfortunately many here fall in line with you. Oh, and where did you observe 5 cars and 10 cops twiddling their thumbs. There should have been more than 5 cars being that these guys ride one cop per car...5 cars/cops possibly and justified depending on the specific nature of the call, which I guarantee you know nothing of...Should there be only 2 cops responding to your house when there is a burglary in progress or within the past few minutes of the call. Are you also aware that there are state mandates for the number of officers for particular types of jobs such as booking prisoners, regardless of the seriousness of the offense..and Lawrence has many arrests.
Jake April 25, 2012 at 06:44 PM
For those that believe writing tickets is the save all...please. Does it help...sure. But, be aware that not every officer can even write speeding tickets because they are not certified in radar usage and this boils down to no time to train due to minimal manpower with high call volume and a respond-to-all calls policy, a policy which has pros and cons and can be debated for another time. Layoffs are merely a knee jerk reaction and does not address or alleviate the problem. How does rendering one jobless help the economy. That person now goes on unemployment, and if unable to find another job when it expires, has to stop spending as much as possible, possibly deplete their savings on health care and unavoidable life costs, in turn possibly losing their home. I find it hard to believe that creative, analytical minds cannot devise a solution other than layoffs. If departments are top heavy with eligible or soon-to-be retirements, can there be a deal to be made that will save some money. Does the town realize that within the next two years, there will be a fairly large exodus from the police due to retirement eligibility? What sense does it make to layoff when the former scenario is evident? Just cut through attrition if you have to, don't turn people's lives upside down for a knee jerk, easy-way-out reaction.
Jake April 25, 2012 at 07:00 PM
And for those that truly believe the police are overstaffed (based on your intimate knowledge of what constitutes proper staffing levels for an effective police department) let me remind you that a third-party, impartial consulting firm was paid tens of thousands of dollars by the town and concluded that Lawrence Police is basically bare bones with barely any time for proactive policing initiatives if they have to abide by unfunded state mandates, entertain all calls and attempt to fully satisfy the citizens. Do you citizens calling for layoffs want a cop to come to your door several days after your initial call for your house being broken into...that's what's going on in the cities now, serious increase in response times and a decrease in services. And you guys what your property values to remain stable too, right? You can't have it all. Responsive and effective police, good schools, clean parks, etc. keep a town desirable with stable home prices...fact of life. Hopefully, we can stick together in hard times and come to a balance without turning lives upside down.
Numb April 25, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Harry and Jake....The one township cop with many faces
NOTACOP April 26, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Another poll for the poster above. Should his name begin with an N or D? What will the public decide.
Elizabeth Hosny April 26, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Why not push to have the cell tower, currently set to be installed at Peterson's nursery, installed on Township property . . it seems such a site is avaialble. Thus the very considerable rental fees from Verizon would come to the Township instead of a private individual and benefit us all. And yes, I admit bias since my house is one that will be overshadowed by this 40 foot tower! But the fact remains that these fees would help considerably with the budget shortfall on an annual basis.
Elizabeth Hosny April 26, 2012 at 03:04 AM
sorry, typo in my previous comment . . 140 foot tower!
2big kp May 03, 2012 at 01:13 AM
Does any one have a number on the officers living out of the township? I bet the people would be astonished by the number.
Jake May 03, 2012 at 01:52 AM
What's your point and why would people be "astonished" by this? Plenty of officers live in town, but it's understandable why others choose to live elsewhere. Why don't you try being a cop and live in the town where you police and see how you feel after some time. It's fine for some and not for others. Lawrence is no different than any other town with regards to the numbers living outside of town.
Victor May 03, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Check out the police contract in the link below to see where cuts can be made in overtime, days off, accumulated sick leave etc and ask if you have ever had such a sweet deal. http://www.perc.state.nj.us/publicsectorcontracts.nsf/Contracts%20By%20Employer/ACD952BF81C9F524852577D600602B38/$File/Lawrence%20Tp%20and%20FOP%20Lodge%20209%20R&F%202009.pdf?OpenElement

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