Knox Election 2017: Vasilios Lefkaditis

Vasilios Lefkaditis

KNOX — Vasilios Lefkaditis, 45, has been Knox’s supervisor for one two-year term. A Democrat, Lefkaditis is running on the Republican line; in the last election, after not getting major-party backing, he ran and won on the Conservative line.

Before running for town supervisor in 2015, he served on the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board for four years.

Lefkaditis moved to Knox from Huntington, in Suffolk County, nine years ago. From 1994 to the early 2000s, he worked as a certified financial advisor and equity trader before he started his own fund for lending, registering banknotes, and working in real estate. He still manages this fund.

Lefkaditis said this spring that he moved to Knox “for the same reasons as most people,” the rural character and open space. At BKW, he has also been a member of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, has coached Little League Baseball in town, and has appeared with his family in the Hilltowns Players production.

On business districts, Lefkaditis noted that, on Sept. 28, zoning board approved a special-use permit for a business at the site of the former Knox Country Store and under the same ownership as Fox Creek Market in Berne; it will open in a matter of weeks, he said. Lefkaditis had owned that building.

Lefkaditis said that he believes more business districts will bring in businesses by “setting the table” and offering the basic services to accommodate these businesses. More businesses in town, he said, should bring down taxes and will complete the community.

“You think of the little store, the country store, the gas station … ,” Lefkaditis said, of picturing a small town. “And we lack all of these.”

He said it would be necessary to first create these districts and then move on to bring in and promote businesses by communicating with groups like Industrial Development Agencies.

“But I can’t approach them, until we’ve got the business districts.” he said, of speaking with groups that assist businesses. “The one business district that we do have is limited in scope because really there’s only one building there that can be a business.”

Lefkaditis said the decision by the board to vote against the proposed business district at routes 156 and 157 “was nonsensical, possibly political, definitely nonsensical.”

Regarding the board’s going against the planning board’s recommendation to establish more business districts in February, Lefkaditis noted that, in a nearly split vote, the planning board had once voted in favor of business districts along Route 146 and the current business district in the Knox hamlet. This was in July 2013, as concerns arose of businesses operating illegally in residential districts.

Lefkaditis also said he did not believe the planning board always made the correct recommendations, mentioning the cell tower that the planning board had recommended against erecting, which he said residents now appreciate having as a source of cell service.

Regarding the capital project, Lefkaditis said that steps would need to be taken to decide which project would need to be focused on first. He said he has been meeting with state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and state Senator George Amedore about receiving grants for a project.

He said he would like to focus on identifying which project the town should start working on in the first quarter of 2018, and that he would prefer repairing the transfer station first. This would follow a planning process, then bringing in professionals to work on the project, and then bringing in funding.

He said he would not want to put “Band-Aids on the highway garage,” or rush to repair the garage, “throwing the bad money onto good.”

Lefkaditis said that the Climate Smart Communities grant, which will have to be used to save energy in the town, should not be used on insulating the highway garage.

“Why would I spend $100,000 on a building that more than likely is going to be torn down in the very near future?” he asked. He said that, if the funding secured a new building, then he would consider using the grant.

He would prefer to use the grant for a long-term project such as erecting solar panels to power town buildings.

He added that the money has not yet been approved to go to the town.

Sharing a highway garage with the county, which was a proposal in the county-wide shared services plan that Knox opted out of, could be revisited in future years, he said.

“It could be worth our while … ,” he added. “The devil’s in the details.

Lefkaditis said that tax revaluation is “very expensive and very time consuming,” and that, before he would consider that, he would have to review the pros and cons of revaluation.

He said he has not come across it as an issue with residents of Knox.

Regarding the tax cap, Lefkaditis said that he doesn’t like taxes, and that he works to generate savings and offer tax cuts, so that the issue of meeting the tax cap “never comes into play.”

When looking at the issue of solid-waste removal, Lefkaditis said that he has been working with the surrounding municipal leaders to discuss the option of privatized solid-waste removal. This could involve using rail service to ship out waste, or waste-to-energy systems.

“The solution is going to have to be a culmination of municipalities working together,” he said.

Lefkaditis also said that he has been working with transfer-station employees to enforce the town’s restriction on garbage use.

“We don’t have very many restrictions at our transfer station, so we’ve become a target for outside illegal dumping,” he said.

The town is now installing security cameras; and has changed locks, limited the number of keys used at the station, and more strictly enforced the use of a town-issued permit to dump garbage.

Lefkaditis said he would like to note his work as supervisor for the past two years on town facilities and reducing town taxes.

“It’s been a busy two years, but I’m going to let the results do the talking for me,” he concluded.

 

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