Election 2022: Breaking down ballot propositions, from affordable housing to clean water and term limits

Remember to flip over your ballots.

In Southold Town, three propositions are on the back of the ballot, including a referendum in four of the five Peconic Bay towns that would establish a half percent tax paid by the purchaser on the transfer of property in the municipality. The revenue collected in each town would be deposited in a community housing fund to address the local affordable housing crisis.

The first proposition on the ballot — the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act — aims to authorize the creation of state debt and sale of state bonds up to $4.2 billion to fund capital projects to “preserve, enhance and restore New York’s natural resources and reduce the impact of climate change,” according to the state website.

At least $1.1 billion would be allocated to restoration and flood risk reduction, up to $650 million would be allocated to open space land conservation and recreation, up to $1.5 billion would be allocated to climate change mitigation and at least $650 million would go towards water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure.

The second proposition was put forward by Suffolk County, and would set 12-year total term limits for the offices of county executive, county legislator and county comptroller, whether served consecutively or not. The League of Women Voters noted in an explanation that the proposition is meant to be a clarification of an existing law; county voters already approved 12-year term limits for those offices.

The third and final proposition on the ballot in Southold is part of the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Hochul last fall and encompasses the towns of East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold. Before creating a housing fund, if the transfer tax law is passed by voters, each town must adopt a plan to implement community housing funds. The plan would be reviewed by the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board, which has already been established in Southold and includes representatives from the town Housing Advisory Commission, North Fork Housing Alliance, Community Action Southold Town, the Greenport Village deputy treasurer, a Fishers Island representative, a banker, a realtor and an attorney. A plan for the funds, which is currently being drafted, would be open for public comment before adoption.

Southold Town has defined community housing as “a variety of housing opportunities for individuals and families of various economic means.” Southold has suffered from an affordable housing crisis over years, as the median home price skyrocketed at a rate far beyond the increase in median household income. The transfer tax, if approved, could bring in between $1 million and $2 million per year for community housing in town.

Existing property owners do not pay into the fund;the half percent tax would only apply to property sales. There would also be a $200,000 exemption for sales, an increase from the current exemption on the Community Preservation Fund transfer tax. The exemption would not apply to properties selling for over $2 million. There would also be a $75,000 exemption for vacant land.

The Town of Southold has posted a page with more information about the proposition on its website.