The Bourne Assessing Department continues to field calls from residents at Hideaway Village, Head of the Bay, and Buttermilk Bay who lodge concerns that their property values are diminished by four controversial turbines being constructed nearby in South Plymouth.
The lament is not new; selectmen and the health board members have listened to the complaints for two months.
Chief Assessor Donna Barakauskas says there has been no reduction in Head of the Bay property values. She say such a feared market-values decline may not ensue even as the turbines – three of which are constructed – start operations.
“It will be kind of interesting to see,” she said about the wind-farm impacts on residential property sales in Bourne.
Bourne assessing records show higher-end homes around the Buttermilk Bay rim range in value from $700,000 to well over $1 million with a lower corresponding range in the $220,000 to $250,000 spread.
Barakaukas discussed her department’s revenue-estimating operations each year as town officials and the finance committee start to review annual budgets for upcoming fiscal years.
The discussion with the finance board is framed by Bourne’s growing need to derive more revenue each year to maintain town government and school district operations as now defined.
Part of that framework involves the failed October $2.7 million override request and the resulting jobs loss in schools and general government as well as amended operations on both sides of the canal. Revenue, as such, is a sensitive topic.
Barakaukas says a conservative approach is always undertaken when providing tax-revenue estimates from her office “so that it does not end up that the town budgets too high.”
The finance board with new members, meanwhile, is trying to analyze revenue-generation trends and how money derived from department turn-backs over a five-year period come to influence upcoming budgets.
Barakaukas told the panel townspeople often do not understand revenue estimating, especially when they view what quickly appears to be so-called “new growth” – think new construction – getting underway around town.
Perceptions can be deceiving and incorrect. The assessing chief said not all is what it outwardly appears. That is, she said, the Hydroid Inc. addition at Commerce Park in Pocasset resulted in one building being duly completed while a second part was not. This, she said, influences the overall revenue estimate.
This, too, applies to four high-end, $900,000 townhouse condos planned for the bluff above Kingman Yachting Marina, Cataumet, that have been approved but where framing has started on only one unit.
Barakauskas also said highly-touted proposals for a restaurant/hotel/ retail/ residential proposal next to the canal in Buzzards Bay have still not advanced into a planning-review and approval stage. In other cases, she said, it often takes three years to complete construction of million-dollar residences.
To top things off, she said, some high-market properties have come off the Bourne tax rolls in recent years – notably The Beachmoor Inn at Taylors Point that was valued at $1.3 million and the former Boutin goggle manufacturing plant at Belmont Circle ($1.6 million).
Both complexes were bought by the state for Massachusetts Maritime Academy operations and are untaxable.
Barakauskas said market values in Buzzards Bay Village are still depressed for a variety of reasons – notably, flood-zone issues. Markets are “improving” in North Sagamore, Pocasset, and Cataumet while remaining “stable” in Monument Beach. She said there have been a few higher-end home sales in Sagamore Village at the canal.
Town Administrator Thomas Guerino, meanwhile, says Bourne awaits word on just how much funding the community will receive from Beacon Hill for payment in lieu of taxes on state-owned land, including Joint Base Cape Cod.
“Unfortunately this is not a formula,” he said. “It is an annual decision by the state legislature. In recent years, it has been fairly stable. It disappeared one year. We’ll see what happens this year.”
In broad terms, Bourne receives $580,000 from the Legislature for state land that comprises 50 percent of the town while the community generates $42 million each year in tax revenue on its own from the other half of town.