The first six months of the year have been profitable for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund, according to elected officials. A large part of that boost was thanks to Southold Town.
The CPF as a whole has seen a 5.5 percent increase in revenue year over year having raised a total of $48.28 million, according to data from state Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s office.
The fund’s money is obtained through a voter-approved two percent real estate transfer tax and is used to purchase open space and farmland development rights in the five East End towns.
Southold revenue rose 20.7 percent, from $2.21 million to $2.76 million. It was the highest growth in revenue reported among the five East End towns.
“It’s a very straightforward formula,” said Southold Supervisor Scott Russell. “More sales, which we’ve had a tremendous volume of sales in Southold, and escalating prices increase the revenue generated.”
Mr. Russell said the noticeable increase in CPF revenue raised shows signs of a good housing market.
It wasn’t just Southold that saw a bump in revenues. East Hampton saw an increase of 6.5 percent during the first six months of 2015 compared to 2014 and Southampton fund revenue rose by 5.8 percent.
Other nearby towns of Riverhead and Shelter Island didn’t boast as impressive numbers. Both towns saw a marked decrease in the first half of 2015, with Shelter Island down 11.8 percent and Riverhead decreasing by 20.7 percent from $1.79 million to $1.42 million.
“I think the reality is that there is still not a real strong housing market,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, in contrast to Mr. Russell’s assertion. “I still practice law and I see fits and starts to the housing market. I don’t think it is just Riverhead.”
Mr. Walter said Riverhead has had good years of CPF revenue in the past — including last year. But he said the overall housing market across Long Island shows a weak economy.
According to a statement released by Mr. Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), even with decreased revenue in two of the five towns, revenues in June alone increased from $7.5 million in 2014 to $9.02 million in 2015.
Over the last 12 months, CPF has generated $100.3 million. Created in 1999, it has since generated a total of $1.04 billion.
“2014 was the largest year for CPF revenues in the history of the program,” Mr. Thiele said in his statement. “This reflects the continued strength in East End real estate and the continued availability to local towns of the necessary revenues to protect community character. ”