Sea Camps Plans, School Budget Top Brewster Annual Town Meeting Saturday

by Rich Eldred

BREWSTER – Brewster’s Annual Town Meeting begins Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Stony Brook School. The headline items are the plans for Brewster’s $20 million Bay Property and $6 million Long Pond Property that formerly comprised the Cape Cod Sea Camps.

Approving or accepting the plans doesn’t bind the town or voters to any expenditures — such as a $30 million community center — which will need to be approved separately over the next decade. But the plans will guide town proposals for the future.

On the bay property, 50 buildings would be removed over a decade and replaced by green space, walking trails, recreational opportunities and a new Mass. Audubon nature center with 10 acres around the pond preserved. Seven buildings could be repurposed for workforce housing. First Light Beach and the outdoor pool would continue to operate. If the plan is approved Brewster will seek funding for a feasibility study for a community center on the property.

The 66-acre Long Pond property would see 10 acres set aside for affordable housing along Route 137. The next step, if voters agree, would be funding a feasibility study for the housing and a small wastewater treatment plant. The remaining 56 acres would be utilized for conservation, water protection and recreation on the pond shore.

The town’s operating budget is $26,523,727, a 5.3 percent increase over last year. The water department budget is $2,986,144 and the golf courses $4,606,233. Brewster is asking for $1,436,212 for capital projects.

While the Cape Tech’s total budget is $17,484,000, an increase of 4.38 percent, the increase in Brewster’s assessment is only $3,109. Brewster’s enrollment fell to 51 students from 53.

An increase in costs for the town’s two elementary schools, driven by special education expenses, will result in a request for a Proposition 2½ override of $758,091. The school committee is asking for $12,447,164 to operate the schools, a 12.6 percent increase. This request includes retaining the foreign language program. The override will add around 11 cents per thousand to the assessments of Brewster homeowners, or around $82 for the average home. The select board supported the request by a 3-2 vote. The finance committee backed the override by a 5-3 margin.

At the regional level the finance committee voted 1-7 not to support the Nauset Regional budget because it employs $940,000 in interest income from the construction bonds for the renovated high school to avoid an override. The committee believes this device will not be available in the future leading to a budget squeeze. They also note that the per student expense has soared to over $32,000 from $21,000 in fiscal 2019.

The school assessment for Brewster is $17,019,204. The region’s total operating budget is $29.2 million. The debt assessment is up to $3.4 million as the payments for the high school bonds have come due. It will take 25 years to pay off the bonds.

Voters may approve $1.6 million in Community Preservation Committee funding and allocation including $74,589 to support a housing coordinator for the town.

Brewster would like to acquire the 12.3-acre Chase Bog for conservation in conjunction with the Brewster Conservation Trust. The town will use CPC funds to purchase a conservation restriction on the property for $230,000.

Article 13 will begin a new program at a cost of $250,000 to pay preschool tuition costs of up to $3,000 per student for up to 75 families. Eligible children would be ages 3 or 4.

Article 15 would lift the spending by the recreation revolving fund to $300,000 from $200,000.

Articles 16 and 17 fund a tax work-off program for seniors and veterans who can get up to $1,000 off their tax bill by volunteering for the town.

Residents on Vesper Pond Drive are looking to begin a $1,256,636 road betterment project that would be funded by the residents through an assessment on their property taxes. Town meeting has to approve an additional $471,070 for this to happen as costs have gone up since the original approval in 2022.

The Drummer Boy Park Advisory Committee is presenting its report to town meeting. It revises the original report that was approved in 2021 and then rescinded over a controversial boardwalk to Wing Island. The boardwalk is not in the new plans.

There are two citizens’ petitions regarding short-term rentals. One would create a registration system for the rentals to collect data on them and make sure there are no violations of rules. The select board and finance committee opposed the petition.

The second petition article would limit the number of short-term rental units a owner could own to one for out-of-town owners and two for Brewster residents. The select board and finance committee both opposed this article as well.

The council of aging will provide transportation for seniors to the meeting if needed — call 508-896-2737 for information — and the Nauset Youth Alliance will handle childcare for children ages 5 to 14 during the meeting provided parents register in advance by calling 508-896-7900 or emailing