Shelton Board of Aldermen Ward 2 candidate: Kevin Kosty

Kevin Kosty

Kevin Kosty

Contributed photo

Party: Democrat

Are you an incumbent?: No

Current job: Senior Technical Support Specialist

Volunteering background, if any: Various activities as a Boy Scout in my youth and continuing into adulthood around Shelton at the Commodore Hull race for the Boys and Girls club, for Adam's House and the trails committee.

Education: Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry

Previous offices held: Vice Chairman of the Shelton Democratic Town Committee

What prompted you to run for office? There is a need for fresh representation at city hall. Elected officials who can listen when the people they represent bring issues that need to be addressed such as the lack of parking downtown and develop a plan for addressing those concerns rather than dismissing them. Alderman who can work together with both private and public interests but prioritize the needs of residents.

What are the major issues/changes you are focused on if elected? A development plan for downtown that addresses the parking problem affecting both residents and our businesses and restaurants. The current administration keeps saying there is no problem or that we just need signs to guide people to existing parking lots, most of which are always full. I’ve yet to find one voter, Republican or Democrat, in ward 2 that agrees with that statement. Selling the parking lot at 113 Canal St. is going to cost us more than 70 parking spots that are mostly filled with residents from Bridge Street and Canal Street apartments who will now have to find another place to park.

The plan also needs to include reopening Wooster Street at the Canal Street intersection as we have far too many apartments on Canal Street to ignore the danger of only having one way in and out of the road. Residents’ cars line both sides of the street posing a problem for emergency vehicles and the road barriers at Wooster Street had to be moved to allow our Firefighters access they needed to fight the Star Pin fire.

Some other things we need long term planning to address are the need for affordable housing for seniors and young working families in Shelton, proper maintenance or public buildings and equipment, public access to the Riverfront, addressing the fact that the Bridgeport Ave sewer pumping station is becoming overloaded constantly running without downtime making the prospect of more development along Bridgeport Ave a risky bet. Low taxes are not enough to continue Shelton’s growth if people, especially the employees that businesses need, are priced out of town. And major failures or infrastructure and services due to the lack of a long-term plan for maintenance and replacement will put those low taxes in jeopardy.

We also need to improve the budget process by adding goals for how we are spending taxpayer money. A budget that’s a list of accounts and how much money is going into them each year does serve to educate the public on how well the city is doing and gives us no way to truly measure our city’s success.

How can you make any proposed improvements yet keep taxes at the stable level they are at present? All improvements need to be planned out over time and we need to incorporate goals and transparency into the budget process to ensure we can keep taxes stable and low. The current administration’s practice of only replacing things when they fail puts our low taxes at risk. We’ve seen the effect of that practice in other municipalities such as Derby in 2014 voting via referendum a $257 annual charge on all residences for 20 years to repair sewer infrastructure that had long been neglected.

Another budget practice that needs to be fixed is the practice of building in artificial surpluses into the budget instead of having a budget stabilization fund. We tell people that they need to be responsible and plan ahead, including having savings in the event of a crisis or financial downturn, so why is the city not required to have the same responsibility? Putting any surplus into a budget stabilization fund with rules and accountability for how the money is spent would prevent another unaccounted disappearance of our surplus that was once $12 million and help reverse the trend of multiple credit rating downgrades in the past few years that make doing public business more expensive.

Thoughts on BOE spending, city-run bus company? Do you agree with the spending levels set forth in the past for the BOE, and is running a bus company (and the costs associated) worth it to the city? The city administration currently doesn’t know how much it’s costing us to have them run the school buses. A flat charge of $3.1 million does not tell us how much was spent on maintenance for the buses, propane, insurance, bus driver contracts (which they don’t have one), subcontracting drivers and buses when the city is short, and many other costs. Would you continue to engage a company that could not explain its expenses for the work being done on your behalf? The city never put in a bid to take over the busing, has not provided information proving that they have met the obligations of the legal settlement, and has not lived up to expectations of residents. There will be a bid process for the provider of school busing soon and if the city wants to continue operating the bus company I will insist as Alderman that a proper and complete bid be provided and that our city finance department is committed to providing the metrics that state if the city has met its obligations.

On spending the BOA and the BOE needs to be aligned in their goals for the school system and the budget process needs to be collaborative and public. Past budget seasons have seen too much tension and arguing between the two boards with the net effect costing us money as we have to offer bigger salaries to retain good staff amid such working conditions and hurting the reputation of the city and the school system. It was just two years ago the two boards agreed to regular public meetings to improve communications but those seem to have quickly fallen by the wayside and been replaced by backdoor communications between certain members. We need to recommit the boards to doing public business in public as required. The BOA also needs to commit to what capital expenses form the BOE’s wish list they are going to pay for before the BOE finalizes its budget. Saying maybe we’ll cover the cafeteria tables or Chromebooks does not give the confidence it needs to know they can keep the minimum number of teachers and staff to keep class sizes appropriately under the state limits.