11-10 PT Service analysis photo

The City of Princeton recently conducted a cost-benefit analysis to determine just how much it costs to live inside the city, versus how much benefit city residents get for their money, and city officials determined that Princeton residents get a lot of bang for their bucks. Photo illustration.

PRINCETON — Princeton residents get the city services for a bargain, according to some city officials.

After a community meeting with residents of Quail Valley earlier this fall left some residents arguing the city was looking to expand at their expense, Princeton Finance Director Brian Blankenship crunched some numbers for company a cost-benefit analysis for residents inside and outside of Princeton.

At the time, Quail Valley resident Sam Baker told the Princeton Times that he didn’t believe the city had any benefits to offer that could offset the additional expenses that would come with being part of Princeton. Specifically, he referred to the city’s added fees on utilities, such as cable, water and electricity and the additional property taxes that accompany living inside the city.

According to the city’s analysis, living inside the municipality carries a property tax increase of 18-20 percent. Garbage disposal runs almost the same rate inside and outside the city, quoted at $216 per year inside Princeton and $209 annually outside.

Blankenship estimated the city’s 2 percent fees on utilities averaging approximately $3,600 annually would cost most residents in the neighborhood of $72 per year. Meanwhile, residents inside Princeton don’t pay the fire service fees county residents must pay to keep volunteer fire departments afloat, because city residents’ property taxes and fees are already allocated for a professional fire department. He estimated they average $38 per year.

Likewise, whereas Quail Valley residents must pay $250 annually to the Quail Valley Maintenance Association to pay for road maintenance and paving, the City of Princeton pays for all of its road paving, clearing and maintenance out of tax funding.

Residents of the City of Princeton enjoy amenities, provided and paid for by the tax dollars, such as:

• City police: Response time to every call, on average, is less than three minutes. The areas outside the city usually take longer to get a response. The frequency of random patrols within the city limits and the high visibility of Princeton Police Department officers is a huge factor in crime prevention. The PPD consists of 22 officers, including Chief John Howell. The total budgeted cost to the City of Princeton for all police services for FY 2017 is $1,961,767.

• Fire Department: City residents are protected by a highly skilled fire department, prepared with state-of-the-art-equipment. The city department is made up of 12 paid firefighters, 10 trained volunteer firefighters, one professional fire chief and two fire stations. Through their property taxes, residents pay for all fire services, including access to assistance from eight fire and emergency first-responders with an average response time of three to five minutes with firefighters and vehicles. Emergency operations begin upon the arrival of the first unit. Volunteer department personnel often arrive in personal vehicles and have to await a fire truck’s arrival before they may begin emergency operations.

The PFD recently earned the Insurance Services Office rating of Class 2, which may enable city residents to obtain better insurance coverage with lower premiums, depending on their specific insurance carriers. Insurance Services Office statistics show that better fire protection leads to lower losses. Princeton is one of only 11 fire departments in the state to attain a Class 2 rating.

PFD provides fire prevention education routinely, in which firefighters visit schools and businesses to teach fire safety and prevention. The fire department also enforces state laws in regard to burning to protect city residents. The department assists the elderly in replacing batteries in fire detectors when requested, along with many other community services. The total budgeted cost to the City of Princeton to provide all fire department services for FY 17 is $1,291,441.

• Public Works: The City of Princeton sweeps the streets of litter and debris on a regular basis, as clears them of snow and ice in the winter and staffs a well-trained street department year-round. Blankenship also pointed out that the city also recently replaced all equipment with a state-of-the-art fleets and heavy-duty equipment.

• Garbage Department: The city provides residents with low-cost, dependable garbage pick-up and disposal, while monitoring all areas of the city for sanitary situations and potential health hazards. Both the street department and the garbage department fall into the Public Works budget, which is allocated $2,071,183 for FY 2017.

• Code Enforcement: The code enforcement provides building inspectors to ensure that all of the city’s codes and policies are enforced, as well as handling building codes, zoning issues, animal control and a host of concerns dealing with issues that make the city safer, more attractive and maintain a higher quality place to live and work. The total Code Enforcement budget for FY2017 is $202,375.

The cost-benefits analysis concluded, “City residents receive more for their tax dollars than any other form of taxation.”

—  Contact

Tammie Toler at

ttoler@ptonline.net

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