Mayor Pro Tem’s Town Meeting Summary 04/13/23

Hello Montreaters,

Mayor Helms is out of town. Thus, as Mayor Pro Tem, I presided over the meeting. The Council, staff, and approximately 10 guests convened for the Public Forum and Council meeting. My summary follows below. The complete official meeting minutes will be in next month’s agenda packet. You can view the meeting recording by CLICKING HERE.

Prior to the Public Forum, we had a reception to formally welcome our new Town Manager, Jason Burrell, and say goodbye to our interim Town Manager, Ben Blackburn. We’re delighted Jason has taken on the role and has already begun building relationships with residents, MRA, Montreat College, and those outside Montreat. We look forward to working with him. We are also thankful to Ben for his 14 months with us. Ben brought a great deal of experience and expertise. He led us through an effective budget process and successfully oversaw the timely submission of important reports. As resident Tom Frist stated, we benefitted from his kindness, competence and humor. We wish him well in his retirement.

Public Forum

  • There were no comments offered at the Forum.

Council Meeting

  • After I opened the meeting, I read a letter from Mayor Helms to Ben Blackburn expressing his appreciation for Ben’s tenure with us.
  • Under Town Manager’s Communications, Town Manager Jason Burrell shared:
    • His initial work in the first two weeks included meeting with people to begin developing relationships
    • He’s been working to gather information for the budget process
    • He has learned about the excellent work of Town staff and appreciates their professionalism
    • He has set up planning meetings with the Town Council leading toward the fiscal 2024 budget
    • The transition to the new financial system is underway and will be a major improvement over our current system.
  • Under New Business, like last month, there was quite a bit:
    • The Council appointed Michael Broussard to the Board of Adjustment
    • The Council appointed Arrington Cox to the Landcare Committee
    • The Council reappointed Hugh Alexander to the Audit Committee
    • The Council reappointed Mary Nell Todd to the Open Space Conservation Committee
    • The Council adopted a proclamation designating April 22 as Arbor Day
    • The Council adopted a proclamation designating April 30 – May 6 as Professional Municipal Clerk Week
    • The Council approved a budget amendment for street paving in the amount of $22,907
    • The Council approved a contract with C&T Paving to repave lower Oklahoma Road in the amount of $145,341
    • The Council approved a contract with C&T Paving to repave upper Oklahoma Road in the amount of $51,566
    • The Council approved adding Jason Burrell and removing Ben Blackburn as signers to Town business accounts
    • I reviewed with the Council the list of approved bear-resistant container enclosures. Please contact Angie for more information.
  • Under Public Comments, Shirley Mitchell asked why, since our charter establishes the Town as a Christian community, we have a moment of silence and not a prayer invoking the name of Jesus. After the meeting, Shirley wrote the Council saying she checked the charter on the Town website and learned that in the 1967 incorporation, Montreat was secularly chartered. We appreciate Shirley’s comments and her follow up with us.
  • In Commissioners’ Communications:
    • Commissioner Widmer reminded everyone that the Native Plant Sale and Arbor Day Celebration will be on Saturday, April 22 and that Montreat College students are sponsoring a Montreat Campus Clean-Up on Friday, April 21, from 3:00-5:00pm to help clean up the area around the Native Plant Sale at Moore Field. They have invited residents to join them.
    • Commissioner Otto welcomed Jason, saying he appreciated how Jason has already begun building relationships with people in Montreat and in the area. He commented that he is looking forward to working with Jason.

As Tim always says, thank you for your encouragement in the Council’s work. It means a great deal to us.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 321/720-8989.

Mason Blake

Mayor Pro Tem Mason Blake on behalf of the Town Council