KULPMONT - Borough leaders expect to be in their new borough building in 2014, and they're preparing to pay for it with a tax increase.

Following an executive session at the end of its meeting Tuesday, council gave tentative approval to a 4.5-mill tax increase to help balance the 2014 budget and begin making payments on a $1.47 million loan for the building from the U.S Department of Agriculture.

Treasurer Paul Niglio had presented council with a tentative budget of $2,098,960, balanced with a 1.5 mill tax increase for general cost increases.

"We are like every other municipality and costs are going up," he told the board.

The millage boost would have meant an average tax increase of $14 for property taxes.

With the extra three mills added after the executive session, that increase jumps to about $35 to $40 per property owner.

While no members of the public spoke out about the budget on Tuesday, there are several vocal critics who say the borough is making a mistake by building a new borough hall and asking taxpayers to pay the loan. They suggest repairs can be made to the current facility, but council has said that isn't practical.

Council expects to give final approval to the budget at its reorganization meeting on Jan. 6.

Property taxes would rise from 18.5 to 23 mills. Seventeen mills go to the general fund and three mills go for lighting and fire services.

Each mill generates $11,000 in revenue for the borough.

The rest of the budget is as follows

- General fund receipts and expenditures - $2,098,960, down $43,865 from 2013

- Highway fund receipts and expenditures - $100,575, down $20,000 from 2013.

- Police pension fund, $40,600 in receipts including carryover, no expenditures.

The tentative budget was approved on a 7-0 vote with members Stephanie Niglio, Phil Scicchitano, Clarence Deitrick, Bruno Varano, Joseph Winhofer, Nicholas Bozza and Stephen Motyka voting yes.

Other business

Building committee chairman Stephen Motyka discussed the timetable for the new 3,000 square-foot borough complex.

"With eliminating the basement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved our plans, so now they are back with the engineer to make the exact plans for the building, including color schemes. They should be 35 percent complete by mid-January and then back for review."

Motyka said they hope to put the project out for bids by mid-February and to start construction in April.

The borough will also see if funds are available for generators so the borough building can be turned into an emergency shelter, much like the Stonington Fire Company has done, receiving money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

On a 7-0 vote, borough council voted the change the borough's waste haulers from Waste Management to Mostik Brothers Disposal, of Mount Carmel, which will cost them a third of what they currently pay. The board also voted to discontinue the rat baiting services of Metro Pest Control, because the Kulpmont-Marion Heights Municipal Authority also provides that service.

The Shamokin Rotary Club Santa Sleigh will stop at Kulpmont Town Park at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19, weather permitting.

The monthly food surplus distribution will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Dec. 19 at the borough garage and the board gave approval for the God's Chuckwagon ministry to use a portion of the borough building parking lot to host a weekly meal there, beginning Monday, Jan. 13.