Mayor’s Summary of the November 9, 2023 Town Council Meeting

Hello Montreaters!

We enjoyed and appreciated the crowd who joined us for our November meeting.

My summary follows below. The official minutes will be in next month’s agenda packet. Please remember you can view tonight’s meeting recording by CLICKING HERE.

Public Forum

  • Wade Burns shared some of the history of the ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction) water wells that were dug many years ago. He said a storage tank was also planned for the site but due to the expense, the tank was never built. Wade stated that he is not sure that if there was a large fire, the two storage tanks we currently have could handle the capacity and pressure to suppress such a fire. He suggested the Council investigate installing the third storage tank.

Council Meeting

  • After I opened the meeting, we had a report from the Black Mountain Fire Department. Chief John Coffey and Deputy Chief James Bingham gave a report of the department, statistics and current initiatives. They have made 100 calls to Montreat so far this year. Their focus, which they would like us to join in on, is risk reduction. It involves everything from clearing grounds around the house to fall prevention. They would like to work with us in putting such a program together in Montreat. Speaking for everyone, I told them we appreciate all they do and we do not take them for granted.
  • In my comments, I had the pleasure of reading two special items:
    • I read a resolution declaring the Guinea Fowl as the official bird of Montreat. The Guinea has so many positive factors that it is only natural it should be named the official bird of Montreat. The Montreat Guinea’s caretaker, Walter Somerville, delightedly accepted the resolution on behalf of his very special birds. CLICK HERE to read the resolution.
    • I then read a proclamation acknowledging the most excellent, creative and enduring work of Ron Vinson as Executive Director of the Presbyterian Heritage Center (PHC). Ron will be retiring at the end of the year after leading the PHC for 16 years. Ron started with empty rooms and turned it into a nationally acclaimed institution of education, history, and theology. Everyone then responded with a standing ovation. CLICK HERE to read the proclamation.
  • During the Town Manager’s report, Savannah Parrish reminded everyone of the Burn Ban currently in effect due to extraordinarily dry conditions. She also extended appreciation to Finance Director Rachel Eddings for an excellent job done on the 22-23 audit.
  • There were no Public Comments in either of the two comment opportunities.
  • Under New Business:
    • Our auditor, Levonia Reese from Carter, P.C., reviewed the recently submitted audit. Levonia stated that:
      • No internal control letter was issued, meaning there were no significant issues found
      • There were no compliance issues
      • The Town puts in a great deal of effort into its financial reports and statements
      • Our net position (net worth) increased nearly $300,000 to approximately $9 million
      • Our general fund balance was nearly $1.7 million, while the available fund balance was approximately $950,000, up more than $50,000 over the previous year
      • The fund balance represented 46% of budgeted expenditures, when our own policy is 35%
      • The water enterprise (water is a separate business entity) lost $17,000 on operations

Levonia stated in Carter’s four years working with the Town, this was the smoothest audit yet and thanked Finance Director Rachel Eddings for all her hard work.

  • The Council approved a text amendment to Zoning Ordinance Article II while tabling the change to Article IV
    • The Council did not take up consideration of new financial policies, but will meet in a future workshop session to discuss the proposed policy changes
  • Under Commissioners’ Communications:
    • Commissioner Alexander reminded everyone that since it is dark earlier now without daylight savings time, drivers need to be careful of pedestrians, especially in crosswalks
    • Mayor Pro Tem Blake thanked Finance Director Rachel Eddings for the excellent work she did on getting us to a successful audit. Rachel has been on staff for less than a year, but quickly learned and adapted.

As I often say, the Commissioners and I thank you sincerely for your encouragement in our work. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please write me at [email protected] or call me at 828/669-3852.

Mayor Tim Helms on behalf of the Town Council