Riverhead was the only town on the East End to see its Community Preservation Fund revenues increase in 2022.
Riverhead Town’s CPF revenues grew nearly 34% last year, to $9.24 million, up from $6.9 million in 2021, according to data released by Assembly Member Fred Thiele.
Both towns on the South Fork and Shelter Island saw CPF revenues drop by double-digit percentages last year. Southold Town’s CPF revenues fell by 3.7%.
Despite the declines, 2022 still produced the second-highest annual total for CPF revenue in the program’s history: $172.63 million for the year — surpassed only by the record-breaking year of 2021, when the region took in $210.64 million in CPF revenues.
The Community Preservation Fund derives revenues from a 2% transfer tax on real estate sales in the five East End towns. The real estate transfer tax in the region 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.
Even though Riverhead was the only town not to see a drop in CPR revenues, its receipts in 2022 were still lower than three of the four other towns, (see below), largely because local property values are lower in Riverhead than in the other East End towns.
Riverhead was also the only town on the East End not to adopt an additional half-percent transfer tax last year. State law was amended to allow the additional tax for a Community Housing Fund, which can be used for affordable housing initiatives in the town imposing the tax. Riverhead officials decided against seeking voter approval for the housing fund because of existing affordable housing opportunities offered within the town. Officials said they may consider it this year or next.
For conveyances on or after April 1 in East Hampton, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold, the tax rate has been increased from 2.% to 2.5%, with the additional half-percent going into the Community Housing Funs in those towns.
Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated more than $1.98 billion, Thiele said in a press release.
“After a volatile fall 2022, CPF revenues have stabilized in the last two months at about $11.8 million per month. These monthly revenues are below late 2020 and 2021 but higher than pre-pandemic levels,” Thiele said.
Below are revenues by town for 2022 compared with 2021.
2021 (in millions) 2022 (in millions) % change East Hampton 66.77 52.44 -21.5% Riverhead 6.90 9.24 +33.9% Shelter Island 4.97 2.85 -42.1% Southampton 118.38 94.97 -19.8% Southold 13.62 13.11 -3.7% Region total 210.64 172.63 -18%
Source: Assembly Member Fred Thiele
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