MOUNT CARMEL - Mount Carmel Area School Board unanimously approved a $17.6 million preliminary budget for 2014-15 Thursday night that calls for a proposed one mill increase.

District financial consultant Charles J. Mannello, who noted one mill is equivalent to approximately $70,000, said next year's budget will result in what he called a minimal increase for property owners.

The current $16 million budget was approved in June without a tax increase.

Superintendent Bernie Stellar thanked Mannello and administrative assistant Corrina Lesko for helping him develop a preliminary balanced budget that totals $17,599,511.83. The proposed spending plan will be available for public inspection with final adoption scheduled for the April school board meeting.

Approving the budget were board president Thomas Ditchey, Donna James, Michael Brinkash, Robert Muldowney, Bill Brecker, Tony Mazzatesta, Joseph Zanella, Michael Rovito and Raymond Kraynak.

In a related matter, the board authorized the administration to utilize up to $600,000 of the assigned fund balance to balance the budget due to an increase of more than $700,000 in the Public School Employees' Retirement System (PSERS) and health insurance costs.

Ditchey read a letter that will be sent to Kulpmont Borough Council requesting a meeting to discuss the future of the former Wilson School that houses the municipal offices and maintenance facility.

In the letter addressed to council president Bruno Varano, Ditchey states, "We find it in the best interest of the taxpayers to inform you that the school district would convey and relinquish the reversionary interest in that property should you decide to repair and renovate that structure for the continued use as a borough office and maintenance building."

In 1977, an agreement between the school district and borough was reached that states ownership of the building would revert back to the district if it stopped being used for municipal purposes, according to district solicitor Edward Greco.

Much debate has surfaced over council's plan to construct a new borough complex on property behind Holy Angels Church in Kulpmont. Earlier this month, council approved a motion on a 4-3 vote to spend up to $5,000 for an engineer to inspect borough hall and provide a cost estimate for repairs to fix structural problems.

High school Principal Lisa Varano and athletic director Greg Sacavage thanked everyone who participated in the second annual Coaches vs. Cancer fund-raising event involving boys' and girls' high school basketball games between Mount Carmel Area and Southern Columbia Area at Mount Carmel Area High School on Feb. 1.

The event raised approximately $4,300.

Next year's fund-raiser will be played Jan. 30 at Southern.

Varano, television studio director and media coordinator David McFee and district systems administrator Gary Trefsger were each granted $1,500 raises. Junior high school Principal Pete Cheddar and elementary school Principal Sue Nestico were granted $3,000 salary increases.

The board approved a salary classification change for special education teacher Elizabeth Park from bachelor's step 1 of $30,819 to master's step 1 of $31,839.

Daniel Lesko was approved as a volunteer baseball coach.

Directors accepted the resignation of volunteer varsity and junior high track and field coach Cassandra Niglio.

Herring, Roll and Solomon PC was approved to audit local tax collectors for 2013 at a maximum cost of $3,850.

The board granted permission to the Big Red Band to travel to Florida in April at no cost to the district.

Directors approved the annual sprinkler inspection agreements through Berkshire Systems Group Inc. at a cost of $146 for the high school system and $294 for the elementary school system.

The board also approved its annual fire alarm inspection agreement through Berkshire Systems Group Inc. at a cost of $1,320 for the elementary school.