Long Island Legislative Alert
A bill stipulating the Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the towns of Southampton, East Hampton and Southold to be “municipal corporations” for the purposes of General Municipal Law §72-h is making its way through the New York State Legislature (S1759-2013/A1221-2013). General Municipal Law §72-h permits counties, towns, villages, fire districts and cities to “sell, transfer, lease to or exchange with” municipal corporations or other listed entities “any real property owned by such county, [etc.].”
The complete text of the original version of the bill can be seen here.
A substantially identical bill had been offered during the last legislative session. It passed the Assembly, but died in committee in the Senate. This time around, the Senate went first, passing the bill on February 27, 2013 and delivering it to the Assembly. As of this writing, it has been reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Similar to the previous bill, the current one includes a two-year sunset provision.
The sponsor’s justification accompanying the bill states in part: “While not a taxing jurisdiction, the trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of Southampton, the trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of East Hampton and the trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of Southold are clearly a form of local elected government and would greatly benefit from the ability to receive land at no cost from the County to be placed under their stewardship.”
This odd phrasing suggests that the benefits flowing from this proposal (whatever they might be) would “greatly benefit” the Trustees, without explaining how the County, towns, villages, fire districts or people of Suffolk County would realize a benefit. In the past, §72-h has been used to facilitate transfers for purposes in the public interest, such as infrastructure improvements, school construction or workforce housing programs. It is difficult to see how similar goals would be advanced merely by subjecting certain parcels to the so-called “stewardship” of the Trustees.