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MONTREAT - The town of Montreat saw a 29% increase in expenditures last year compared to an 8% growth in revenue, according to its 2019 financial audit.

During its Jan. 9 Town Council meeting, town administrator Alex Carmichael said that the town experienced a 69% increase in transportation spending through various road projects and developments.

Partnered with money allocated by the Powell Bill, however, Montreat only saw a 1% loss in its general fund.

The council reviewed its current spending for the construction of a future town hall located outside Montreat Gate, concluding that the town had completed 50% of its total payment.

While the town hall’s initial inception caused a backlash, the commission noted that its construction is on schedule.

An additional controversy arose in the meeting about the town’s lone stoplight on Graybeard Trail. Several residents told the council that the light takes longer than six minutes to change.

Other residents, along with Carmichael, said that they believed the light could be dangerous, with many taking to running the red light from the two-way road onto the trail’s one-way path.

“You should go down there and check it out,” one resident protested prior to leaving. “At night.”

Following damage by tropical storm Alberta in 2019, Graybeard Trail began sinking into the creek below, and the town set up a stoplight on a four-minute timer.

Carmichael said that the topography of the stoplight’s setup has prevented the timer from syncing, often leaving traffic at a red light for upwards of six minutes, leading to increased traffic on the road.

Now with a contractor coming to the lights each day to reset the timer, Carmichael said that he and the council have experienced daily comments from the town’s residents.

“I get an email almost daily,” Carmichael said. “It has been a real frustration with the people here, and I can understand why.”

“It deserves caution to begin with, and adding traffic makes it all the more concerning.”

The commission concluded that it “does not look like” they’ll be able to condense its original 90-day plan to restore Greybeard Trail.

Carmichael added that the town’s increased transportation spending does not coincide with the ongoing maintenance of Graybeard Trail.

The Powell Bill, passed in 1951, allocates money to each North Carolina municipality for the maintenance of major streets.

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