The following is the second in a three-part series of profiles of candidates running in the June 5 primary for Montville Township Committee. Candidate Annabel Pierce will be profiled on Thursday.
Republican Committeeman Don Kostka was born and raised in Montville.
The graduate is proud of that and has been sharing the fact that he has experience not only with township politics but with the township itself with listeners as the incumbent candidate prepares to face Republican challenger Annabel Pierce in the June 5 primary for a single Montville Township Committee seat that he currently occupies.
Kostka is concluding his first term on the township committee and while he feels he still has more work to do if elected, he also has said that this will probably be the last term he serves on the committee. A Board of Trustees member since 2008, Kostka said serving on the library board is what initially inspired him to run for township committee.
At the time, Kostka said he was unhappy with what he called the willingness of the board to spend money and he and a few other trustees began to challenge the library director and other members of the board to become more efficient. Kostka said this ruffled a few feathers of some board trustees, so much so that he and two other trustees were threatened with a lawsuit.
"We were willing to kick in $100,000 each [for legal fees]," Kostka said. "It didn't get to that point."
Ultimately the former library director resigned, Kostka said, and the board worked hard to reduce costs.
"The changes that we made alone saved the taxpayers $1 million plus," he said.
Fiscal responsibility is important to Kostka and he said he has brought that fundamental value to his role on the township committee.
"I really look at it as my job is to look our for the taxpayer," he said.
One time where he felt he was instrumental in helping the township committee with fiscal responsibility was in 2010 when the budget was defeated by voters. Kostka said he took a week off from work to go through the school district's budget line by line and determine areas he felt could be cut. He came up with over $3 million in areas he felt could be reduced and presented his results to the committee members and public.
"I think the response from the vast majority of people who were there was probably shock," he said. "The whole idea was just to let people know there were choices."
While the committee ended up keeping some of what was in the school district's budget, Kostka said he learned a great deal from going through the budget so closely. He has also gained a better understanding of the municipal budget and while he said no cuts are "painless," Kostka believes the most expensive areas of the municipal budget are the costs for employees and their benefits. He believes that the township is doing a good job of being efficient in that department, but that it is possible that more efficiencies could be made.
Kostka and his wife, Darlene, raised three kids in Montville: Jason, Nicole and Christine.
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