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The hot real estate market, driven by city dwellers relocating to the East End to escape the crowded confines of urban life during a pandemic, has boosted Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund revenues by nearly 37% this year compared to last.

Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund revenues in August were nearly double the amount collected in August 2019.

The Community Preservation Fund derives revenues from a 2% transfer tax on real estate sales in the five East End towns and so provides a useful barometer of how active the real estate market is and whether property values are increasing.

Overall, CPF revenues were 36.8% higher in the first eight months of 2020 than the same period in 2019, according to data released yesterday by Assemblyman Fred Thiele.

The CPF grew by $72.26 million from January through August, compared to the $52.82 million collected during the first eight months of 2019, Thiele said. August 2020 CPF revenues totaled $11.16 million, compared to $6.02 million collected in August 2019.

“CPF revenues for August 2020 are over $5 million more than a
year ago. The eight-month total for 2020 is the highest year-to-date revenue total for eight months in the 21-year history of the CPF,” said Thiele, who co-authored the legislation with State Sen. Ken LaValle.

“The increase in revenue continues to be fueled by the exodus from New York City and other population centers to the East End,” Thiele said.

The CPF’s biggest growth came in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, which posted gains of 44.8% and 36.9% respectively, year over year. Southampton Town CPF added $42.47 million in the first eight months of 2020, while East Hampton added $20.87 million in that period..

Riverhead Town has seen a 28.6% growth in CPF revenue this year compared to 2019, with $2.17 million in revenues.

CPF revenues in Southold Town remained flat year over year, with $5 million collected year to date, compared to $5.07 million during the first eight months of 2019.

Shelter Island had an 11.8% growth in the CPF, with revenues at $1.14 million from January through August, compared to $1.02 million for the same period in 2019.

Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated $1.533 billion, Thiele said in a press release. The CPF has generated $98 million in the last 12 months, he said.

The 2% tax on real estate transfers in the five East End towns was created to fund land preservation purchases in each town. It has protected more than 10,000 acres of land. In 2015, the CPF was extended to 2050 and amended to allow up to 20% of CPF revenues to be expended on eligible water quality improvement projects, such as wastewater treatment improvement and pollution prevention projects and aquatic habitat restoration projects. Voters approved the changes in 2016.

Editor’s note: This article has been amended to correct an error in the amounts of CPF revenues collected in Southampton and East Hampton towns in the first eight months of this year.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.