A booming real estate market sent income to the Community Preservation Fund accounts of all five East End towns soaring in 2013.
Southampton Town saw the largest dollar gains, a nearly $20 million increase over the 2012 receipts. The town took in $57.79 million in CPF revenue from sales, both in late 2012 and through the first three quarters of 2013, a nearly 53-percent jump over 2012’s $37.8 million in revenue, and double what any other town took in last year.
The town spent almost exactly as much on preservation efforts in 2013 as it took in. The town started the year with $47.3 million in its preservation coffers and, even after doling out $58 million on preservation efforts and maintenance of previously preserved properties, still ended the year with a robust $62.3 million balance in the CPF fund. The fund is used primarily to purchase land and development rights to preserve open space, recreational facilities or historic properties, but can also be used to maintain recreational or historic assets.
Gains in other towns were more modest, in dollars, but were uniformly strong. East Hampton’s CPF revenue climbed more than $7 million, to $28.1 million, a 29-percent increase. Shelter Island saw the largest relative increase, taking in just over $2 million, an approximately 58-percent increase over 2012. Southold Town took in $4.86 million, a 33-percent increase, and Riverhead Town took in $2.58 million, the most modest increase at 16.7 percent.
The CPF is funded with revenues from a 2-percent tax on all residential real estate transactions. The fund was created in 1999 and has been extended through 2030.
Southampton Town has considered borrowing against anticipated future revenues, a step that other towns have taken to front-load preservation efforts with many more tens of millions than annual proceeds provide. But Southampton has found that its flood of revenues, even in slower years, has kept pace with its ability to find land owners willing to sell land or development rights for preservation.