Brewster To Vote On Financing Sea Camps Property Development

by Rich Eldred

BREWSTER – Paying for a costly trinket can be tricky at times; a new car, a vacation getaway, a boat or perhaps a $62 million property improvement.

The select board Monday approved a financing plan for three phases of development for the two Cape Cod Sea Camps properties the town bought for $26 million. Voters will be required to approve the developmental plans for both properties at the May 11 annual town meeting. The board decided to bring two articles forward, one covering the plans for each of the Sea Camps properties.

However, the financing will be rolled together and permission to issue debt exceeding the limits of Proposition 2½ won’t be requested from voters until at least the fall town meeting.

While the project will be completed in five phases from 2025 to 2035, the financing plans would be approved in three phases.

“The first [funding] phase involves funding to move forward on all phases of the pond property and the first two phases for the bay property,” Town Manager Peter Lombardi said. “The plan is to bring the funding request to Brewster voters this fall. We’ve identified a number of alternative funding sources but will have to issue excluded debt to pay for some portions.”

Lombardi said the first request will be for $11.5 million in debt, which factors in other sources covering some of the costs to develop the properties, The town is hoping for $5.3 million from the other sources on the pond project and $4.2 million for the bay property, leaving the remaining $11.5 million for Brewster property taxpayers.

“Brewster has a triple-A bond rating,” Lombardi noted. “We have adjusted the initial rate of 4 percent to 3.85 percent, which will have a positive impact on the tax rate.”

Lombardi said the financing would add 11 cents per thousand to the tax rate, or $81 a year to a median priced home valued at $710,000.

The second round of financing covering the third and fourth phases of development of the bay property would be for $14.5 million in debt. Under the current plans that await approval, this wouldn’t happen until 2029. Lombardi said that would add 14 cents per thousand to the tax rate, or about $100 a year to the tax bill of the average home.

This figure assumes Brewster moves forward with a community center on the bay property. Phase 4 of the project includes the design cost for a center. If voters decide not to build a community center, that could reduce the total bill for the first two financing phases to around $20 million instead of $25.5 million.

The third and final financing phase would cover the cost of construction of the community center, currently estimated at over $30 million; but the cost would depend on exactly what is included in the building. Lombardi noted there are multiple decision points in this entire process, and the town may decide not to go forward with certain aspects such as the community center, a wastewater treatment plant on the pond property or other proposals.

“This is very beneficial information,” board member Mary Chaffee observed. “Updating with the improved interest rate would be beneficial.”

With the earlier assumed interest rate of 4 percent, the total debt expense including interest paid over 30 years was estimated at just over $90 million, with $33 million of that paid as interest.

Chaffee also wanted to make sure voters in May realize they won't be voting on any of the financing, only to approve the general plans for both properties, and that those plans could be modified or reduced when voters decide on how much they want to spend.

The board approved the financing plans by a 5-0 vote. Also approved were the town meeting articles covering the plans.

“I support the two-article format,” Kari Hoffmann said. “I’d like to keep the decisions separate. Both properties are unique and the plans are different. The bay property is more complex and both have items the voters need to review. If they were combined [in one article] discussion could be confusing and unwieldy.”