KULPMONT - Borough landlords will be paying much less in rental property fees in 2014 thanks to a 6-1 council decision Tuesday to lower the fee from $120 to $50 per rental unit effective Saturday.

"It was the only way to be fair," council member Joseph Winhofer said. "This way everyone is paying the same fee."

The motion was made by Winhofer and seconded by Clarence Deitrick. Winhofer, Deitrick, Stephanie Niglio, Phil Scicchitano, Bruno Varano and Nicholas Bozza voted yes on the motion while Stephen Motyka was the lone dissenting vote. It was Motyka who made the motion back in May to change the fee from $100 per landlord to $120 per rental unit.

The fee was set to take effect Jan. 1, but after several landlords complained, the board voted to suspend enforcement of the registration for two months. Several votes were cast to change the fee, but they were either defeated by a 3-4 margin, or a 3-3 tie.

After the motion passed Tuesday, Motyka gave council some bad news.

"Since we have already have this money in the budget, we're going to have to make cuts due to that lost money," he said.

According to a handout created by Motyka earlier this year, Kulpmont has 210 rental units, which would have generated approximately $25,200 in revenue in 2014 with the $120-per-unit fee. At $50 a unit, the revenue drops to $10,500, a 59-percent decrease.

Several of the landlords in attendance thanked council following the meeting. Steve Matzura, who has been one of the main critics said reactions among the landlords will probably be mixed.

"The landlords with one unit are probably happy because they are going from paying $100 last year to $50," Matzura said. "A landlord that owns 12 units will go from paying $100 last year to $600 this year."

Matzura said council had no choice but to lower the fee, but still said it wasn't a perfect system.

"They are still just randomly picking a number with no justification for it," he said.

The new fee is still higher than Coal Township, Shamokin and Mount Carmel, which charges a yearly fee of $25 per unit.

In other business

- The board approved the purchase of a cutting edge for the borough's loader at a cost of $229.

- Mayor Bernard Novakoski said that all announcements for any future snow emergencies will be listed on the front page of the borough's website. Arrangements are also being made with The News-Item to put out mobile and web alerts, and through other notification services.

- The monthly surplus food giveaway will be held from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursday, March 13 at the borough garage.