The Shelton Herald sent questions to each Board of Aldermen candidate. These are the responses by the aldermen, Third Ward candidates. Candidates are in alphabetical order. Incumbents are noted.

John Anglace, Jr. (R), incumbent, and Cris Balamaci (R), incumbent

The candidates chose to provide a unified response to The Shelton Herald questions.

What major projects would be your focus once elected?

Our main focus will be to follow the requirements of the city charter which lists the powers of the Board of Aldermen (BOA) “To enact, amend or repeal ordinances, create, consolidate, or abolish offices or boards, commissions or other bodies … to provide for the preservation of the order, peace, safety, health and welfare of the City and it inhabitants; to determine and set, upon recommendation of the Mayor, the compensation of all elected officials and appointed officials of the City and all City employees, to regulate the borrowing of money by the City; to issue such bonds or notes as may be required for the proper conduct of business of the City…” Being the fiscal authority of the city is our paramount duty. We have and will continue to manage city finances in an efficient, affordable and frugal manner in accordance with the powers bestowed upon us by the city charter.

What is the most significant issue facing the city? What is required to address this issue? Questions have been raised about transparency of the budget process. What steps, if any, are needed to make the spending of city funds more transparent to the community?

The most significant issue facing the city is appropriate oversight of the city finances.

On transparency of the budget process, the Board of Education (BOE) budget is the largest and hardest budget to understand. We have already revised their budget reporting format to mirror the city line item budget process and we have commenced quarterly review meetings with the BOE to review their budget allocation, their spending, their line item transfers and their grant revenue receipts. The BOE finance director is making adjustments to their Munis system to provide quarterly data reporting in the city required format. We expect this will result in a much simpler BOE budget document next year. These documents are on line with the city and the BOE improving official and public access and promoting better understanding of the budget process.

What are your thoughts on the relationship with the Board of Education? Has it improved in your mind, and what would you do to make the relationship even stronger?

We are already seeing significant improvement in our ability to communicate, understand and respond to student needs. We call your attention to the BOA Finance Committee meeting minutes of Sept. 24, 2019, which are currently on the city of Shelton website. This meeting was attended by the BOE finance director, the city treasurer, the city finance and assistant finance director and addresses several auditor related issues, examines budget formatting and demonstrates the progress being made to improve transparency for everyone. This dialogue will go a long way toward answering budget questions, avoiding suspicions and eliminating confusion. We are all optimistic that such communication will promote orderly examination of and fair consideration of each other’s needs. Reading these minutes is of paramount importance to understanding the progress being made between the BOA and the BOE.

Jose Goncalves (D)

No response

Matt McGee (D)

What major projects would be your focus once elected?

As your alderman, I will work with the Board of Education to improve the daily operations of our schools and increase the value of the education we currently offer our students. I would like to see class sizes reduced, “pay to play” eliminated, replacement of old textbooks and a shift to a 1:1 Chromebook initiative where every student from grade 7 on up will be given their own personal school Chromebook for the year to reduce the need for textbooks and to encourage teachers to use more online learning resources such as Google classroom. In order to accomplish all these goals and more, first and foremost more funding will need to be allocated to the education budget, which I intend to fight for. At the moment we do not need to raise taxes. Our grand list is growing and according to the 2018 audit, multiple city departments routinely end fiscal years with large, million dollar surpluses. As long as the city adjusts its priorities and makes the budgeting process more transparent, we can allocate more funding without raising taxes.

What is the most significant issue facing the city? What is required to address this issue? Questions have been raised about transparency of the budget process. What steps, if any, are needed to make the spending of city funds more transparent to the community?

There are 3 issues that are equally important.

1. Our education budget is underfunded by $3,000 per student, and the current political establishment is completely fine with this. They do not acknowledge the fact that better schools lead to higher property values, and because our schools are their last priority when you go to sell your home, you will be getting on average $30,000-$40,000 less than you would in Trumbull, for example. This, and our students are not receiving the best education they possible, because the resources just aren’t there.

2. Large developers have held too much influence over city hall for far too long now. It seems that whatever developers want, they get. Now Shelter Ridge will be built on Bridgeport Avenue next to Mill Street, bringing in even more traffic and destroying the natural landscape currently encompassing the area. This is unacceptable. It’s time to put our people before the interests of wealthy developers, and as your alderman I will use my influence upon the Planning & Zoning Commission to urge they reject developments which are bad for Shelton residents, and I will fight for increased public parking downtown and the preservation of our many parks and trails around the city to accommodate for such overdevelopment.

3. City Hall lacks transparency. Currently, there is a fiscal audit done every year of city finances, but this shows us only the tip of the iceberg. As your alderman, I will fight for a more expansive operational audit to be conducted of all city finances (yes, this includes the Board of Education) so we know exactly where each dollar is coming from and going to. I will also fight to make it a law that the city budget must be published on the city of Shelton website, which it currently is not.

What are your thoughts on the relationship with the Board of Education? Has it improved in your mind, and what would you do to make the relationship even stronger?

The relationship between the BOA and BOE is toxic, plain and simple. There have been efforts made by both sides to meet and discuss the differences of opinions, and more of these meetings must be held. I would recommend that the full BOA and BOE meet at least once a month to be on the same page regarding city finances. Further, the BOA is still waging a (quite frankly) stupid lawsuit against the BOE for allegedly “overspending” its appropriated budget. The BOE simply spent money that is guaranteed to be reimbursed by the state via the state’s “excess cost grant.” This grant money was sent to the city and now the city is holding it hostage. All lawsuits like these do is waste taxpayer dollars and contribute to the perception that our city does not care about education, which in turn hurts your property value. It’s time the BOA and BOE work together for the betterment of the people, and I will fight to force the cooperation of my future colleagues on the BOA in this regard.