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Best year ever for preservation funds: Island doubles fund in 2020 over 2019

Community Preservation Fund (CPF) revenues for 2020 total $139.42 million compared with $77.88 million in 2019.

In a report released by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), all five East End towns showed substantial increases, up nearly 80% in 2020 compared with the income in 2019.

Shelter Island doubled its CPF for a 100% increase. The town will see $3.09 million for 2020 compared with $1.54 million in 2019.

Money for the CPF comes from a 2% tax that buyers pay when purchasing East End properties and is used in turn to purchase open space for preservation and fund water protection programs.

Southampton and East Hampton saw CPF income soar by 88.3% and 80.8% respectively. Southampton CPF money for 2020 totaled $80.71 million compared with $42.86 million in 2019. East Hampton 2020 CPF revenues totaled $40.94 million compared with the 2019 total of $22.65 million.

Riverhead was up by 44.4% increase in 2020 bringing in $4.94 million in 2020 compared with $3.2 million in 2019. Southold saw a 41.6% increase with $9.75 million going for preservation for 2020 compared with $7.41 million in 2019.

Revenues come from a 2% tax paid by real estate buyers with some exemptions. Shelter Island, East Hampton and Southampton exempt the first $250,000 of the purchase price of a parcel with construction and the first $100,000 of a vacant, unimproved parcel. In Riverhead and Southold the first $150,000 price of a developed parcel is exempt while the exemption applies to the first $100,000 in Riverhead and $75,000 in Southold of the purchase price of an undeveloped parcel.

The 2020 revenues are the highest annual totals in the history of the fund that began collecting taxes in 1999. Until now, the highest annual total was $107.69 million for a single year, in 2014, Mr. Thiele said.

December 2020 CPF revenues totaled $21.31 million, the highest single month in the history of the program. During 2020, seven of each of the 12 months produced revenues of more than $10 million, the legislator said.

As CPF revenues began to climb in 2020, Mr. Thiele attributed the hike to a thriving real estate market resulting from the number of people who opted to leave New York City and other places and relocate to the East End because of the COVID-19 pandemic.