With tax revenue still relatively low due to the continual economic slide, Supervisor Scott Russell reported on Tuesday that he'll be looking into selling off town-owned properties to generate revenue for the town.
"Where did the mortgage tax go?" he asked at Tuesday's work session. "There's none."
Russell said his curiosity was piqued when he received a capital improvements request from the public works department for a $75,000 upgrade on a small parcel he was unaware the town owned on the shore of the Mattituck Inlet next to the .
Russell wondered if it would be in the best interest of the town to declare it as surplus and sell it off, a concept handed to Town Attorney Martin Finnegan, who will report back to the Board with the feasibility of the idea.
"There are a lot of properties out there," Russell said. "I'm trying to go through the list of these town assets and see what we can offer up for sale."
The waterfront parcel which was the topic of conversation on Tuesday is reportedly in need of new bulkheading, and according to Trustee Jill Doherty, could have been acquired by the town as a road end before Mill Road turned south toward the Old Mill Inn.
"I don't see the public benefit of owning that property," Russell said. "I don't see the public benefit of spending that money to repair the bulkheading, but I understand the underlying liability. And I think it would be a good time to discuss some of these properties."
Towns receive a slice from the county on a 1.05 percent tax on total mortgage amounts. According to the Suffolk County Clerk's office, Southold received just over $550,000 through the first six months of the year from the mortgage tax, slightly above the $525,000 collected in the first six months of 2010.
However the slight uptick in the first half of this year and last year's mortgage tax total of just under $1 million is a far cry from the $2.29 million collected as recently as 2007. The drop in revenue has left Russell trying to find creative ways to balance his 2012-2013 budget, though Town Comptroller John Cushman reported in mid-July that the town could finish the year with over $5 million in reserves.
"The point is, it serves no public purpose for me to spend $75,000 when I can't find $35,000 to fix the," he said. "The idea is to start getting rid of some of these, particularly if they become a financial burden."
Councilman Al Krupski suggested possibly looking into changing the zone of the parcel to make it more marketable, though the current zoning of the parcel was unclear at the work session.