With the change of leadership in Albany, Assembly Member Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) lead a coalition of 35 East End leaders to get Governor Kathy Hochul to sign legislation that would create a Peconic Bay Area Community Housing Act that was pending with former Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The law would give each of the five towns in the East End the ability to hold a referendum which, if passed, would create a fund similar to the two community preservation funds which provide money for land conservation and water quality projects.
But in this case, the Community Housing Fund would add a 1.2% increase to the existing 2% transfer tax paid by property buyers in each city.
Under the housing law, the transfer tax currently in force would be reduced for about a third of transactions, Thiele said.
At Shelter Island and South Fork, these tax exemptions would increase from $ 250,000 to $ 400,000. For property transfers on North Fork, these exemptions would increase to $ 200,000 instead of the current $ 150,000.
The net impact would be to reduce the existing transfer tax on all transactions of $ 1 million or less on Shelter Island and South Fork and transactions of $ 400,000 or less on The North Fork, Thiele said.
At the same time, the implementation of the housing law would provide income to cover the costs of providing affordable housing, lawmakers said. He pointed out that if the law had been in effect in 2020, it would have generated $ 30 million in revenue across the region, providing financial assistance to first-time homebuyers and effectively producing new affordable housing opportunities.
The Shelter Island Community Housing Board has long struggled to find money to help fund the development of two affordable housing projects it was exploring. Former council chairman Mike Bebon praised the potential of the legislation to help the city in its efforts.
The Community Housing Council (CHB) was suspended for a period of time because Mr Bebon was forced to resign because the city code prohibits a member of the City Council from serving on the CHB. He then left city council and announced that he and his wife would be moving to South Carolina.
But the explosion in her situation, and the subsequent withdrawal by city council of a relatively new member who opposed the creation of affordable housing, had the effect of reducing membership to one person.
City council on Friday took steps to appoint several new members providing a way forward for resumption of work.