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Jul 28, 2015 4:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bill To Extend CPF Tax And Tap It For Water Quality Efforts Could Be Approved By End Of The Year

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. addresses members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee Monday night. ALYSSA MELILLO
Jul 29, 2015 12:11 PM

Legislation that would extend the life of the region’s Community Preservation Fund tax, as well as tap it to fund water quality programs in addition to land preservation, has made it through both houses of the State Legislature.

The bill, which some authors of the original CPF legislation first pitched last fall, would extend the tax for an additional 20 years, to 2050. It also would permit up to 20 percent of the CPF revenue, which comes from a 2-percent real estate transfer tax, to be used for water quality protection—including upgrading septic systems and tackling the amount of nitrogen found in East End water bodies.

This week, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said that the bill could be presented to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo by the end of the summer, or in the fall—and when that happens he will have 10 days to sign it.

“Obviously, I never try to predict what the governor is going to do, but the Community Preservation Fund has been very successful, so there’s no reason not to extend the program for another 20 years,” Mr. Thiele said. “I’m very optimistic, because the existing program is a success, and water quality has been an issue.”

If and when Mr. Cuomo signs the bill, the five East End towns then would have to pass local laws mirroring the extension of the CPF, and the use of revenue for water quality protection. Each would then have to create its own water quality protection plans, Mr. Thiele said, something East Hampton Town has already done and Southampton Town is currently in the process of approving.

Once those steps are completed, a referendum would be presented to voters in each town explaining how it would spend the CPF money. Mr. Thiele said that could happen by next year.

The assemblyman, with State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, wrote a letter to Mr. Cuomo last week outlining why he should sign the bill. The officials cited the widespread success of the Peconic Bay Region CPF, which has generated more than $1 billion in revenues and resulted in the preservation of more than 10,000 acres of land since its implementation in 1999. Extending the CPF, they wrote, could generate an additional $1.5 billion over the extra 20 years, for a total of $2.7 billion in revenues between 2016 and 2050.

They also explained that the capital funding of water quality projects will cost billions of dollars statewide, and tapping the CPF for money for such initiatives would take some stress off the state.

“You have recognized the need to improve water quality on Long Island through your initiatives to invest [Hurricane] Sandy funds to upgrade sewage treatment plants on Long Island and funding to create a water quality research center at Stony Brook University,” Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle wrote the governor. “This legislation is consistent with those efforts by providing a local source of funding for capital improvements to improve water quality on the East End.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said Tuesday that she was in favor of both measures the bill covers, especially because it is difficult to find funding for water-related projects that don't "add to the overall tax burden to a degree that it is unsustainable for people."

"This is a way where, if you go back to the whole idea behind community preservation and character, we all felt that safeguarding our water was an integral part of community preservation," she said. "There is some thought to it that if you extend the fund for that long at some point, you will get to the point where there isn't any more open space to preserve. I don't know if we'd ever get to that point."

Mr. Thiele addressed residents at a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday night and explained to them that the extension and new use of the tax would expand on what the CPF was created to do—protect community character. “The fact of the matter is, it’s just like preserving rural character through open space,” he told the group. “If we don’t take the bull by the horns … nothing is going to happen.”

Staff writer Erin McKinley contributed reporting.

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The only thing that will preserve the character of the villages is less residential development. The unbridled increase in residential land development by spec builders financed by big money interests is going to obliterate the character of
Southampton, Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Easthampton. Only by tightenng zoning and restricting development can open land and resources including water by saved. It's time to think about the massive influx of people who drain all our resources including ...more
By localcitizen (96), Southampton on Jul 29, 15 8:10 AM
2 members liked this comment
Just goes to show that no tax will ever go away. They just find some other excuse to keep taxing. Horrible.
By The Real World (322), southampton on Jul 29, 15 10:58 AM
3 members liked this comment
Well, the residents of the Town have the ability to vote on it. So if they want the tax to end, vote for it.
By Nature (2952), Southampton on Jul 31, 15 1:24 PM
Before this legislation is renewed there should be very specific guidelines as to what CPF money can be spent on and what it can not be spent on. For example the funds should not be spent on tax replacement for properties off taxrolls, it should not be spent on museums or community centers or any item that benefits a specific homeowner or business.
By bird (628), Sag Harbor on Jul 29, 15 11:35 AM
No part of this tax should be extended unless provision is made that purchases of parcels in the incorporated villages are mandated on a level equal to the proportion of funds generated by sales in the villages.The villages have generated the lion's share of the CPF funds but have obtained little in return despite the presence of many parcels worthy of being purchased in the villages. The fund should be dedicated to the purchase of property-period-not"projects". Show most politicians a fund with ...more
By john B (1), southampton on Jul 29, 15 5:36 PM
2 members liked this comment
Some 200 + years after Patrick Henry, the East End Towns continue to pass heavy tax burdens on homeowners disenfranchised from voting on there implementation! Give all property owners the right to vote. It's the right thing to do.
By RANGER66 (9), WESTHAMPTON BEACH on Jul 29, 15 8:40 PM
This is a boondoggle to steal cpf money and use it to pay for sewers tha t will increase pollution and make it cheaper for developers



This is a boondoggle to tap int cpf funds to pay for sewers which will increase pollution .




By native son (9), Cutchogue on Jul 31, 15 1:07 PM
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