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Fiscal Responsibility a Primary Concern for Kostka

Township committee incumbent said he helped library board be more efficient with spending.

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.

To read more Montville Patch coverage of the Montville Township Committee 2012 election, click here.

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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Concernedthinker May 30, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I will also be voting next week, but for Annabel Pierce. We do need new and different voices and I believe Annabel Pierce will be that voice for Montville Township residents. Mr. Kostka’s accomplishment’s consists of work he did while serving on the library board prior to his election to the Township Committee and taking a week off of work to go through the Board of Education Budget. Unfortunately for him, most of his recommendations were rejected by the Committee. Mr. Kostka also took part in cutting 10% of the Towaco Fire Department’s budget, effectively crippling the fire department while literally saving taxpayers only a few dollars a year.
Dan Grant May 30, 2012 at 08:10 PM
As I said before being on the Township Committee in not like running a hot dog stand. You have to decide on more than Mustard or Krout. If ever there was an example of what new people can do wrong it is this current Committee. Why would we add another to the pot. You have objections to Mr. Kostka that is fine but then consider Mike O'Brien. He has shown dedication to the Township, knows what he needs to hit the ground running and will not be a part of the TEAM. BTW Kostka didn't start the turmoil in the Fire Department. I don't agree with the cuts the Township Committee made but he didn't do it alone.
Kurt Dinkelmeyer June 02, 2012 at 01:34 AM
People who attend Township Committee meetings know Don Kostka is a leader who is prepared, asks pointed questions, contributes valuable insights and makes difficult decisions independantly from any "TEAM". His voting record proves he is definately a fiscal conservative. "Concernedthinker" unfairly limits Mr. Kostka's acccomplishments to the Library Board and the 2010 Board of Education budget, claiming most of his recommended cuts were rejected. The truth is his recommendations resulted in substantial savings and he has contributed in many areas, such as preparing Township budgets, deciding on improvements and bond issues, opposing COAH expeditures, etc. "Concernedthinker" falsely stated Mr. Kostka took part in "effectively crippling the fire department, while literally saving taxpayers only a few dollars a year." The facts are the Towaco Fire District voters voted their budget down, the Towaco Fire Commissioners said they did not need their 2 full-time employees, and the savings on salaries and full benefits far exceeded the Township's 10% budget cut. This left more funds for training and equipment and the cuts will result in substantial on-going savings. Montville's other two fire districts did not have full-time employees and yesterday a Towaco Fire District Commissioner told me that "the cuts did not effectively cripple the Fire District". Two Towaco Fire District Commissioners have Don Kostka signs in their front yards showing support for him.
James P. Page June 02, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Mike O'Brien is going to get my Vote
Dan Pagano June 04, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Concernedthinker, I can tell from your pseudonym you are "concerned" about concealing your indentity and your agenda. You apparently are not a very deep"thinker", if you were you would realize Montville consists of well-educated voters who are smart enough to understand you have a grudge against Mr. Kostka. Maybe, you are a water and sewer department employee who has been held to account by Mr. Kostka or maybe or you are ex-fire district commissioner or administrator who was held to account by the voters and now you seek to blame someone else. I have attended numerous TC meetings over the past several months (Ms. Pierce has attended one) and have observed Mr. Kostka. He is well-informed, insightful and consistently concerned about the taxpayers/rate-payers. He is willing to ask the tough questions so he can make good decisions based in fact and guided by his principles. These are rare quallities in an elected official. He has earned my respect and my vote.

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