Shelton Board of Aldermen Ward 1 candidate: Wayne Bragg

Wayne Bragg

Wayne Bragg

Contributed photo

Party: Democratic

Are you an incumbent?: No

Current job: Adjunct Professor University of Connecticut, owner KWB Consulting, LLC

Volunteering background, if any: Corporator Griffin Hospital

Education: MBA University of Connecticut , BS Management Central Connecticut State University

Previous offices held: Board of Apportionment and Taxation

What promoted you to run for office? I decided to run for Alderman because the mayor and the Board of Aldermen have deliberately sidelined the Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T). As a former member of A&T and controller of Sikorsky Aircraft, I have years of experience managing a team-based budgeting oversight process. I feel that A&T’s role must be enhanced to make it more effective, not eliminated. The mayor states that A&T is no longer relevant because they are not able to produce a budget. As the ex-officio member of A&T, shouldn’t he be assisting A&T members in completing their task, not criticizing them? As an Alderman, I will use my voice and experience to improve the budget process, engage A&T, and find new ways to save money.

What are the major issues/changes you are focused on if elected? a) We must first restore A&T’s authority to monitor the budget and independent oversight role that provides checks and balances and basic spending controls. Most towns, with a mayoral form of government, have a separate finance board. We need more control not less! I would work towards establishing a more cooperative and working relationship between A&T and the BOA finance committee with defined budget-related duties that would strengthen control of the city’s finances using best financial practices, such as implementing new policies and procedures for controlling the surplus.

b) The chronic underfunding of the schools must stop. The first step is a more collaborative strategic process that recognizes the relationship between the Superintendent of Schools, the Board of Education, and the Board of Aldermen and realistically aligns the resources with the school system’s needs. Since the BOA has the final say in school funding, they should be brought into the budget process as a partner and share budget responsibility for meeting student achievement goals. Therefore, all education spending decisions must address the impact on student and academic success.

c) In business, companies ensure that they operate productively and efficiently using performance measures. The city must do the same. The budget must manage results by measuring the quality, cost effectiveness, and outcomes of all the services it delivers and hold departments accountable for achieving their goals and objectives. Without these, citizens have no confidence that public funds are being spent wisely and effectively. The bus company is a perfect example of why these metrics are needed.

How can you make any proposed improvements yet keep taxes at the stable level they are at present? These changes will bring increased transparency and accountability not increased taxes. We need a budget process that aligns available resources to the needs of infrastructure, education, and vital public services. By instituting a system of results-based financial management with accurate accounting and reporting of how funds have been used, we will have better oversight and citizens will be assured that their tax dollars are spent responsibly and effectively.

Thoughts on BOE spending, city-run bus company? a. Do you agree with the spending levels set forth in the past for the BOE: Chronic underfunding of the school system has caused our per-pupil spending to be among the lowest in the state. We have seen flat budgets that do not recognize the increasing costs of education or even cover teacher salary contracts. Teacher layoffs and increased class sizes have become the norm. Spending levels should be determined through a strategic evaluation of instructional priorities and needs of the school system. Budgeting is about prioritizing resources and being able to assess how student performance is affected when funding is not adequate. This requires better information, analysis, and new levels of communication to build confidence among all education stakeholders.

b. is running a bus company (and the costs associated) worth it to the city? To answer the question, we would need to see the business case that shows the city’s and BOE’s overall cost to run the bus company compared to the bids from outside companies. The problem is the city deflects this question by pointing to the fact that the BOE is only charged $3.15 million for bus service. That is not the answer to the question of what the total cost is to run the bus company. The analysis must consider the company’s total actual and budgeted costs of school transportation (buses, drivers, monitors, insurance, systems, depreciation, facilities, training, fuel, maintenance, etc.). Without such an analysis, there is no way to reasonably evaluate the validity of this decision, let alone the savings declared. If this study exists, why hasn’t it been made public?