Knox Election 2017: Amy Pokorny for supervisor

KNOX — Amy Pokorny, 64, has been on Knox’s town council for five years, and for the first time is running to be the town’s supervisor. A Democrat, Pokorny is running on the town’s Democratic line.

She first was a member of the town’s zoning board, from 2006 to 2012. That year, she was appointed to a seat on the town council, and then was elected to the board the following year.

Pokorny is from a small community near Binghamton, in Broome County. She had worked for the Department of Social Services in Norwich, in Chenango County, before moving to Knox in 1985.

“I wanted to be in a quiet rural setting,” she said this spring, of her decision to move to Knox.

Pokorny worked for the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in Albany. Later, she and her husband, Russ Pokorny, now the town assessor, ran the Knox Country Store for six years until 2002. She is now retired, but she and her husband host events at a venue they own called the Octagon Barn.

“I guess the most relevant piece of experience in my background would be that my husband and I owned the Knox Country Store for almost six years, so we have that business experience in Knox,” she told The Enterprise this week.

She is also a member of the Kiwanis club, a charter member of the Helderberg Hilltowns Association, a member of the Albany County Visions and Conventions Bureau, and plays the trumpet in the Knox Town Band.

Of the business district and business in the community, Pokorny said it is necessary to balance agricultural heritage with economic development.

“I think people want more opportunities to make a living in the Hilltowns,” she said.

Noting the significance of home businesses, Pokorny said it is important to provide high-speed internet access in Knox to make it easier to run home businesses. She also said she would like to change the zoning to make it easier to run a home businesses.

She said she would like to focus on creating more economic opportunities rather than new business districts.

“I think there are things we could do in terms of economic development that would be more suitable than forming business districts,” she said. “Because that’s inherently selective, it only affects people in the geographic areas that we’re looking at.”

Pokorny said one thing that could be done would be to set up an economic development committee, as well as work with neighboring towns.

“It’s a regional issue,” she said.

She noted that the town should make use of its natural resources, such as the town park and wetlands, as well as local state parks and preserves; bring in tourists to visit these areas and bring in businesses to serve these people.

“There’s a lot we could do,” she said, of potential tourism enterprises.

Pokorny also said the town’s agricultural committee is working with local farms and other agricultural operations.

She said her past votes against the proposed business district at routes 156 and 157 were based on the concerns posed by the planning board and conservation advisory council.

“I do think we should be working within the comprehensive planning process,” she said.

She added that she felt the planning board had valid points, and that it didn’t make sense to go against them.

“I think their points had merit,” she said.

On the capital project, Pokorny said that she felt the Climate Smart
Communities grant, which she said increased to $130,000, could be used in funding such projects. The grant, while not yet received, has been approved by the state, and is most likely going to be received by Knox, she said.

“I know that it’s been said that it’s guaranteed,” Pokorny said. “But unless we do something, you know, really negligent; it’s not like there’s any question about us getting the money.”

Pokorny also said that the transfer station was in need of repairs and redesign. The trash compactor and hopper need to be replaced there, she said, but other sources of money would have to be used to fund projects there.

“I think the transfer station is something we need to address right away,” she said, noting that, with the upcoming closure of the Albany City Landfill, the future requirements of the transfer station may need to change.

She said the town should be working with all communities to find a solution to repair and update the transfer station.

On tax revaluation, Pokorny said that Knox properties are assessed at about 60 percent of full-market value. She said a revaluation would be required only if this came down to a certain point.

The revaluation process would be long and involved, Pokorny said, and could result in other mistakes in tax evaluation. On the annual Grievance Day, she said, only one or two grievances are received, so she does not believe many people find their properties unfairly assessed.

“If we did a revaluation, it would be a very difficult process … ,” she said. “It may not really improve the rolls that much.”

Pokorny said she felt people may not understand what was happening to their property values and be angered by their taxes going up.

On going above the tax cap, Pokorny said, “I can’t think of a situation toward Knox that would require that.”

She said going above the tax cap would require an extreme situation for the town to be going through, but that the town has been budgeting conservatively and has some money set aside for times of need.

On the issue of solid waste, Pokorny noted that more trash appears to be coming into the transfer station. The transfer station currently needs an additional container to hold solid waste, especially on Saturdays, the town’s busiest days; but the container that has been ordered is on backorder.

Pokorny said there are ways to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill, such as creating a space or bringing in a container to hold items that residents would otherwise throw out that others could reuse. She also said there are local entities that collect textiles like old clothes, curtains, and bedspreads, to reuse.

The town should encourage composting, Pokorny said, either through a municipal facility that accepts organic waste that can be managed so it decomposes cleanly and doesn’t attract animals, or by encouraging residents to compost in their backyards.

Pokorny also said the town should work to bring back household hazardous waste collection, which has not been done in the past year. She also said the town should look into recycling programs for things like opened paint can swapping or collecting.

“The transfer station and the town hall are really the two places that people interact with their town,” she said. Pokorny noted that employees at the transfer station help residents find items to reuse, which reduces waste.

She concluded that she would like people to feel respected and heard by the government.

“My goal really in running is to encourage to participate in our democratic process and our local town government, and participate in respectful dialogues,” she said.

 

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