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Report: Community Preservation Fund has seen record increase so far in 2020

Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund revenues are at record levels through the first eight months of 2020, according to a new report released by State Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s office.

Mr. Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who co-sponsored the 1999 bill to create the CPF, reported a 36.8% increase in fund revenues over the first eight months of 2019. The CPF is raised through a 2% land transfer tax in the five East End towns to preserve open space and fund other environmental protection efforts there. 

“The 8-month total for 2020 is the highest year-to-date revenue total for 8 months in the 21-year history of the CPF,” Mr. Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said in a release. “The increase in revenue continues to be fueled by the exodus from New York City and other population centers to the East End.” 

The report also indicates, perhaps surprisingly, that Southold Town’s CPF totals have so far decreased in 2020. Officials in Southold Town have been citing an exodus of people from New York City to places like Southold, Greenport and Orient as a way of avoiding the COVID-19 pandemic, which initially was centered in New York City, but has since declined.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell isn’t alarmed. 

“That is a snapshot of revenue and it would be difficult to draw too many conclusions from it,” he said by email. “Based on the most recent distribution we received, I believe that we will end the year with revenue overall at a higher level than previous year totals. After the COVID-19 took a foothold in NYC, many people who owned homes quickly jumped into the lucrative rental market. While the demand for rentals is still high, many of those owners are shifting gears and offering the properties for outright sale instead of renting.

“I can only speculate, however, I would rather wait to see the year-end totals before we draw any conclusions.”

The numbers through August of 2020 and August 2019 show this year with a total revenue of $72.26 million in the five East End towns, up 36.8% over 2019’s $52.82 million. 

The South Fork towns of Southampton and East Hampton have traditionally drawn way more revenue from the CPF than the North Fork towns, and that trend continues over the past year. 

• Southampton received $42.47 million, up 44.8%; 

• East Hampton received $20.87 million, up 36.9%; 

• Riverhead received $2.79 million, up 28.6%; 

• Shelter Island received $2.79 million, up 11.8%; and 

• Southold received $5 million, down by 1.4%. 

Since its inception in 1999, the CPF has generated $1.533 billion, including $98 million in the last 12 months, according to Mr. Thiele.