January 2022 saw the biggest revenue in the 23-year history of the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund, despite low inventory throughout the five East End towns. On Monday, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the CPF architect, reported the program’s highest monthly total — $24.69 million.
The figure is a 17.2% increase over January 2021, when $21.07 million was collected.
“The high end of the market drives these numbers and there’s obviously a lot of activity on the high end of the market,” Thiele told Behind The Hedges on Monday. The program, which now supports water quality in addition to open space, is funded by a 2% tax on most real estate purchases.
One of those deals that fell into the January CPF figures was the combined $118.5 million trade in Water Mill, even though it closed just before the New Year, on December 30. Thiele explained it matters really when the check reaches the county.
Southampton Town collected the most in January with $14.55 million, an 11.8% increase over January 2021 when it received $13.02 million. Another big sale likely responsible for the spike was the $50 million sale at 7 Fairfield Pond Lane in Sagaponack, which is part of Southampton Town, that closed on January 20.
In January 2022, the biggest increase was in the Town of Southold, where CPF revenues jumped 72.8% over January 2021. The town received $1.59 million last month and $920,000 the same month last year.
Meanwhile, the Town of East Hampton took in $7.32 million, 27.1% more than January 2021, the second-biggest spike. The Town of Riverhead also saw a bit of a bump — 9.7% — going from $620,000 in January 2021 to $680,000 in January 2022.
Shelter Island was the only one of the five East End towns to see a decrease. Its revenues fell year-over-year from $750,000 in January 2021 to $550,000 in January 22, a 26.7% decrease.
Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated $1.835 billion, but the last two years have seen a huge surge due to the COVID-19 pandemic when people flocked to the East End for space and privacy.
As for 2021’s total figures, the $210.64 million collected was 51.1% higher than 2020, the highest annual CPF total ever, even topping 2020’s record-breaking total of $139.42.
Southampton took in the most, $118.38 million, a 46.7% increase from the $80.71 million it collected in 2020.
East Hampton Town saw the biggest percentage increase, 63.1%, having received $66.77 million in revenues, in 2021, as opposed to $49.94 million in 2020.
Shelter Island Town closely followed the percentage bump with a 61.41% increase. The small town received $4.97 million last year and took in $3.08 million in 2020.
The towns of Riverhead and Southold both saw 39.7% increase in revenues. Southold collected $13.62 million in 2021 versus $9.75 million in 2020. Riverhead received $6.9 million last year over $4.94 million a year earlier.
Thiele reports it is the 17th consecutive month that revenues have exceeded $10 million. It has surprised many, including Thiele, that the figures have consistently remained so high. Before the pandemic, “If we ever had a $10 million month, that would stand out in a year. Now you’ve got 17 of them,” he said.
How much longer will it last? “That’s the question that nobody knows the answer to. It obviously can’t last forever,” he said.