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Land preservation revenues escalating on East End: Shelter Island leads towns in percentage of growth

Community Preservation Funds (CPF) for the first three quarters of 2021 for the five East End towns are 87.6% more than they were for the same months of 2020.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) released the figures showing that $158.88 million has been collected for the fist three quarters of 2021 compared with $84.68 million for that period in 2020.

The funds are generated by a 2% tax paid by property buyers with most of the money being used for land preservation, but in recent years, up to 20% has been approved by voters in each town for water quality improvement projects.

For a full 12-month period going back to the last few months of 2020 to the end of September this year, the CPF funds generated $213.62 million. That represents the period when CPF funds began to escalate, fueled by a hot real estate market, Mr. Thiele said. As the COVID pandemic enabled many city dwellers to work remotely, and the towns on the East End beckoned with a sense of greater safety, many people chose to settle here.

This September marked the 14th straight month that revenues exceeded $10 million.

Since the funds started to flow to local coffers in 1999, the Community Preservation Fund has generated $1.759 billion.

At the same time, Mr. Thiele is alerting officials in the five towns that revenues in the past two months reflect a slowdown in the rate of CPF revenue increases from those recorded in each of the previous 12 months. The numbers still reflect a high level of real estate activity across the East End, but if the downward trend continues, it would likely return to revenues more typical of pre-pandemic times.

Mr. Thiele noted reports of declining inventory and rising prices have slowed down the turnover of properties.

Shelter Island continues to lead the pack when it comes to the nine month percentage increases. The Island’s revenues during the first nine months of this year were 127.7% higher than they were for the first nine months of 2020. The Town received $3.37 million this year compared with $1.48 million during the first nine months of 2020.

East Hampton’s percentage increase for the first nine month of this year is 119.5%, netting $52.59 million compared with $23.96 million to the same period last year.

Southampton was next in line with a 77% increase this year, bringing in $88.54 million compared with $50.03 million last year.

Southold saw a 58.6% increase in its CPF money during the first nine months of 2021. That brought in $9.42 million, compared with $5.94 million during the first nine months of last year.

Riverhead saw a 51.4% increase during the first nine months of this year, pulling in $4.95 million compared with $3.27 million last year.