Montreat Minute 5/29/2020

COVID-19 Update

Regulations have changed again with adoption of Phase 2 last Friday. Given the expected increase in visitors and activity here, the Montreat Town Commissioners have prepared a letter for all residents, full and part-time. The letter will be sent via traditional mail and email as well as posted on the Town website. Signs will be posted at the gate informing everyone that COVID-19 regulations are in force at Montreat. If you would like to see the letter in advance of the mailing, CLICK HERE.

Another 2020 Census Update

We have received word that all census packages have been delivered to Montreat residences. Therefore, if you consider Montreat as your primary residence, have not completed your census and you did not receive a package at your home, you can still be counted. The most expeditious way of doing so is online. CLICK HERE for detailed instructions on how to do so. There are also instructions for completing it by phone.

We are grateful for everyone’s desire to participate. Its importance cannot be overstated. Not only does it provide an accurate accounting of our population, but it also provides Federal funding locally. The Census Bureau estimates that each person counted represents $1,623 in funding for local municipalities. So, please take the time to complete your census.

2020-2021 Town Budget

The Town Council and staff met last night for a 2020-2021 budget workshop. The meeting theme was austerity in the face of Coronavirus impacts. We have already seen an impact with reduced sales tax revenue in the current fiscal year. Other authorities tell us it will continue well into the next budget year. The Town’s revenues come from a number of sources. The largest source is real estate taxes (ad valorum taxes), which make up approximately 58% of total revenues. Sales, use and personal property taxes make up approximately 27% of total revenues. We expect sales, use and personal property taxes to be down approximately 18% for ’20-’21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other taxes and fees are also expected to decrease as well.

Therefore, the Town is looking at a significantly reduced revenue and expense budget. Expenses will be reduced by 27% over the current year. Expected revenue is similar. But even with such drastic COVID-19 cuts, revenue is still short. Thus, the budget proposes two solutions to make up the shortfall:

  1. Utilizing the General Fund balance in the amount of approximately $119,000, which still protects the 35% fund balance requirement ($615,400) and leaves a balance of approximately $226,000.
  2. Increasing taxes from 41 cents per hundred dollars of valuation to 43 cents per hundred dollars of valuation, which would generate approximately $50,000 in additional revenue. This was a hard decision. Montreat has not had a tax increase in eight years. Given inflation, our purchasing power has dropped to 37 cents in 2003 dollars. We hope the impact on property owners will not be too disadvantageous. For a house with a tax valuation of $350,000, it will mean a tax increase of $70 per year.

We worked hard to not cut staff, staff salaries or services. However, we will be testing one service cut. Due to the cancellation of June conferences and the expected decrease in rentals and other programming, we will try to get by with one day per week sanitation pick up instead of two, saving contract labor costs of approximately $2,500. If it appears that we need to go back to two days per week, we will make it happen.

Further, we will be monitoring both revenues and expenses throughout the year and will make mid-course corrections as needed. We will keep you informed when the budget is adopted next month and in the coming months. We appreciate your understanding and support in these unprecedented times.

Other Important Information

  • Montreat Building Inspector Dan Cordell reports that some Montreat residents have submitted building permit applications to the Town of Black Mountain instead of to Montreat. Any business related to building services in Montreat should be directed to Town staff by calling 828/669-8002 x301 or emailing info@townofmontreat.org.
  • Please tie your trash bags before putting them out for pickup. This simple task saves sanitation staff much time in their collection efforts. Thank you for helping them.

Questions?

Do you have Town-related questions you would like answered? If so, please send them to Angela Murphy at info@townofmontreat.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Have a safe weekend and stay well.

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