Princeton University will make a voluntary contribution to the town in the amount of $2.475 million for 2013, Council agreed on Monday.
“In totality, this is the same amount as the two municipalities received in 2012, however in 2012, $500,000 of that money was restricted for use in defraying the cost for consolidation,” Council President Bernie Miller said.
The University has also pledged $20,000 for operations of the Princeton Fire Department and $300,000 for future additions to the Witherspoon Street fire station should the three houses merge into one station, Miller said.
The discussion of accepting of the University’s donation revealed conflict in the newly seated council at its first business meeting of the year.
After Council Member (and University employee) Heather Howard abstained from the discussion, Council Member Jo Butler asked Lempert if she intended to recuse herself because her husband works for the University.
Attorney Ed Schmierer clarified that Lempert simply introduced the resolution as the meeting chair and would not participate in the discussion or vote. However, Lempert clarified that the contribution was agreed to in 2012, which seemed to leave Butler confused.
“We did not agree to this on Borough Council, we had a one year agreement to my knowledge,” Butler said. “ If you had a two year agreement in the Township and you approved it, I would like to see it.”
Kristen Appelget, the University’s director of community and regional affairs, said the University, at the time of the 2012 contribution was negotiated, indicated it was willing to make the same contribution in 2013, given all of the other issues surrounding consolidation that might conflict with an extended negotiation.
“We indicated to Mayor Lempert, Bob Durkee and myself, that we were willing to move forward with that contribution for 2013 and she indicated she would put the documents together for your vote,” Appelget said. “That’s what you see in front of you tonight.
Council Members Patrick Simon, Jenny Crumiller, Lance Liverman and Miller voted to accept the resolution.
“I feel strongly that we have an ethics violation here and on that basis I am going to abstain,” she said.