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LACKAWANNA TO ENFORCE LICENSE FEES CRACKDOWN TARGETS COIN-OPERATED DEVICES

Lackawanna, owed about $24,000 in overdue license fees for coin-operated machines, will start issuing summonses soon, the police chief told City Council members Wednesday.

Police will visit establishments listed as having unlicensed machines and issue a summons for each machine not having a current sticker, Chief Joseph V. Deren said.

He said enforcement will start within a few days, as soon as he can coordinate the effort with the city clerk's office.

Only two summonses have been issued in the last five years despite the fact that a substantial number of machines are unlicensed, Deren acknowledged.

That will change, he said, with police manpower directed toward enforcement rather than collecting data on unlicensed machines.

"We're not going to listen to any extenuating circumstances, that will be up to the judge," Deren said.

The financially strapped city has collected only about $18,000 of the nearly $42,000 owed on 1988 and 1989 license fees for the 435 coin-operated machines in the city, according to the City Clerk's office. Fees for 1991 will be due Jan. 1.

Fees range from $5 for a soft drink vending machine to $75 for a video game or juke box.

In addition, the more than 20 distributors who operate in the city must pay a $250 annual fee.

One vendor, State Music Distributors Inc., plans to pay its 1991 fees under protest, alleging that the fees are excessive and amount to an illegal tax, James M. Shaw, attorney for the firm, said Wednesday.

Deren met with Council members during an informal work session to discuss enforcement. Three of the five councilmen were present. Absent were the 4th Ward's Marion M. Druzbik and the 1st Ward's George W. Halsey III.

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