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Island shows substantial hike in preservation funds

REPORTER FILE PHOTO The Community Preservation Fund collects taxes on real estate sales to spend on open space aquisitions and water protection programs.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO The Community Preservation Fund collects taxes on real estate sales to spend on open space aquisitions and water protection programs.

Shelter Island continued its substantial march forward with Community Preservation Fund receipts up substantially for the first four months of 2017 as compared with the same period the previous year.

The 2 percent tax paid by buyers of property on the Island increased by 36.4 percent from $440,000 during the first four months of 2016 to $600,000 for that period this year.

The new numbers released by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) represent the greatest percentage growth of any of the five East End towns.

Conversely, East Hampton numbers showed the largest percent decrease at 31.2 percent, bringing in $8.06 million for the first four months of this year compared with $11.72 million for the same period of 2016.

Southold followed in Shelter Island’s lead with an 11.7 percent increase in CPF revenues, at $2.2 million this year compared with $1.97 million in 2016. Riverhead was also on the upswing with a 3.2 percent increase, going from $940,000 last year to $970,000 this year.

Southampton numbers were down slightly by 0.5 percent, moving from $16.83 million last year to $16.72 million this year.

Despite Shelter Island’s substantial growth, the CPF funds for the entire East End are down by 10.5 percent, going from $31.91 million for the first four months of 2016 to $28.5 million for that period this year.

Nonetheless, in both March and April this year, revenues were slightly higher than they had been in for those months a year ago.

While overall CPF income has dropped, the number of transactions for those months both years remains the same at 1,875, Mr. Thiele said.

“Real estate sales on the East End have plateaued since reaching a record high in 2014,” the legislator said. Last year, they were 13 percent lower than the numbers recorded in 2014 and they have declined by 7 percent during the last two years, he said.

Since the Community Preservation Fund started to pour money into the five East End towns in 1999, $1.213 billion has been raised to be used for preservation of open spaces and farmland. In the past 12 months, the fund has generated $90.35 million.

Last November, voters in all five East End towns approved a measure that would allow up to 20 percent of new funds generated to be applied to specific water quality projects.

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