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January 9, 2012

Mayor and Council Borough of Princeton President and Members Princeton Regional Board of Education Dear Officials:

Mayor and Township Committee Township of Princeton Chair and Members Mercer County Board of Elections

As you may know, the Division of Local Government Services serves as a facilitator to resolve concerns stemming from the forthcoming consolidation of the Borough and the Township. We have recently been presented with two questions related to the election process. In turn, these answers may result in immediate action by local officials. This letter should not be construed as legal advice or as representing a formal position of the Department or the Division, I provide this as guidance for consideration by local legal counsel. These questions follow: 1) What election cycle (April 2012, or April 2013) will be used to reconstitute the Princeton Regional Board of Education as the local (Princeton) Board of Education? This has complications as municipal election districts were established in December by the County Board of Elections for the upcoming municipal primary election in June 2012. 2) How will the three year terms of the new Princeton governing body members be set under the borough form of government? Specifically, we were asked how individuals members will be assigned initial terms. The Division has consulted with the legal counsel in the State Division of Law and with the staff of the Division of Elections for guidance on both these matters. After due consideration and discussion, we can provide you the following guidance. 1) The State has no specific interest as to when the board of education is reconstituted and the resolution of the issue lies with the Board of Education. Thus, we advise you that the matter should be put to the Board of Education attorney to consider and advise the Board accordingly. To assist in the that determination, we can advise you that if the decision is made to have the election for the new board take place in 2012, the Division of Elections can preserve or archive the old election (pre-2012) districts for Princeton (both Borough and Township) so that school elections can take place in April 2012 using the pre-2012 municipal voting districts. This decision should be made in a timely manner.
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2) With regard to the assignment of terms for the new borough governing body, here too the decision is left to the advice of the municipal attorneys. To assist, we point you to existing law that may provide guidance in reaching a determination. The most instructive and relevant provision is the Borough Act (N.J.S.A. 40A:60-2(b) which reads as follows (in pertinent part): (1) The council shall consist of six members, elected at large, and shall serve for a term of three years and until their successors shall have qualified. Their terms shall be arranged, by lot if necessary, so that the terms of two councilmen shall expire at the end of each year; and Alternatively, the communities could consider N.J.S.A.40:84-10 concerning the Municipal Manager form of government which provides that the formation of the new governing body is for the newly elected official to have their terms assigned by the number of votes received. In this case, the three year terms would be assigned to the two council members with the first and second highest vote totals, the two year terms with the third and fourth highest vote total, and the one year terms with the second lowest and the lowest vote totals. We urge the two municipal attorneys to review the law, consult with their clients, and come to a single determination that will be implemented. Sincerely,

Marc Pfeiffer, Deputy Director Division of Local Government Services

c: Princeton Borough and Princeton Township Consolidation Commission