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East End towns put $93.7M in preservation fund

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele appears in

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele appears in Sag Harbor on Nov. 2, 2014. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

An East End land and water preservation fund took in $93.72 million in revenue from real estate sales taxes and transfers in 2016, a 6.6 percent decrease from 2015, said Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr.

The Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund generated less revenue because “real estate sales on the East End have plateaued since reaching a record high in 2014,” Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said in a news release issued Monday.

The fund collects 2 percent of real estate transactions on the East End and uses the money to acquire and manage open-space properties and historical sites. In November, voters for the first time approved using up to 20 percent of the fund for water improvement projects.

The fund has generated $1.187 billion since it was implemented in 1999, Thiele said.

Southampton and East Hampton produced the most money for the fund, although both towns saw a decrease in revenue in 2016. Southampton brought $54.76 million into the fund, compared to $60 million the year before. East Hampton generated $26.89 million in 2016, a 6.9 percent drop from 2015.

Revenues from Southold, Shelter Island and Riverhead all increased in 2016, Thiele said. Southold generated $6.67 million, up 6.7 percent from 2015; Shelter Island produced 2 percent more revenue, with $2.02 million in 2016; and Riverhead brought in about $200,000 more revenue than in 2015.

The tax supporting the preservation fund is scheduled to last until 2050. Towns give exemptions for first-time home buyers by setting limits on taxing the first $150,000 spent on the North Fork and the first $250,000 spent on the South Fork.

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