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Saltaire officials float idea for transfer tax

Saltaire, Fire Island (June 3, 2009)

Saltaire, Fire Island (June 3, 2009) Credit: Karen Wiles Stabile

Village officials on Fire Island are pursuing a real estate transfer tax that they would use to fund capital improvement and beach replenishment projects.

At Saltaire’s board meeting Monday, Mayor Robert Cox announced the possible tax, which he said would have to be authorized by state lawmakers in Albany. If approved, the seller of any real property in Saltaire would pay a tax — Cox floated a figure of 2 percent — to the village.

Cox said the money would be “specifically set aside for capital repairs,” which he said have been onerous and expensive in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Trustee John Zaccaro said he approved of the idea as long as the board heard resident feedback about the percentage of the tax. Many in the crowd at Monday’s meeting groaned when Zaccaro suggested that the tax be higher than 2 percent.

Ocean Beach clerk-treasurer Steven Brautigam said that village might consider pursuing a similar tax, and is keeping an eye on how its western neighbor fares in the process.

“This is a whole procedure that could take months, if not years,” Brautigam said. “We’re very interested in piggybacking, or looking into what Saltaire is doing on this.”

Brautigam said he’s never heard of a real estate transfer tax adopted on the village level. And while he said the village is looking for new revenue streams as it recovers from Sandy, Ocean Beach can always tax residents through their assessed home values without having to go through the state. This year, the village raised taxes 13.47 percent.

Still, Brautigam said, Ocean Beach “clearly would consider it and look into it depending on how it goes” with Saltaire.

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