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HOUSING AUTHORITY ADDS LATE FEE

Tenants late with their rent to the Lackawanna Municipal Housing Authority must now pay an additional $35 if they receive court notice through the recently appointed city marshal, John C. Makeyenko, officials said.

Acting Executive Director Thomas J. Radich confirmed that the charge is new and represents the cost of marshal services. He said a notice announcing the new fee will go to the more than 400 renters living in the apartments for low-income singles and families.

The fee came to light at an authority meeting when a tenant, who works as a bus aide, said she expected a $10 late charge when her $161 rent was five days late. She said when she paid $171 late in the month, she was startled to discover an additional $35 fee.

Radich said a $35 charge now is added after 20 days to cover the marshal's fee for serving papers.

"Once he serves the court notice, he charges us $35," Radich said.

Makeyenko, chairman of the Lackawanna Democratic Party and president of the Lackawanna School Board, was appointed a city marshal by Public Safety Director Arthur Kowalski on May 16. Kowalski announced May 18 that the newly created position was unsalaried, with income dependent on "set fees for serving petitions or warrants."

Before the marshal post was created and Makeyenko appointed, city police officers served papers without fees, and tenants were not charged, Radich said. He said this apparently was not a proper use of police services.

Radich said that the past service by the police officers did not meet requirements of state law.

"We have to use the City Court marshal," said Radich. "The fee schedule he charges is required by state law.

Radich said the $10 late charge is imposed by the Housing Authority on the fifth of the month. He said $35 is added to cover the charge by Makeyenko if the rent remains unpaid to the point in the month when the tenant is notified to appear in court on eviction proceedings.

After that, if the rent continues unpaid, an eviction notice is served, and the tenant will be charged an additional $75, he said.

The school bus aide, who confirmed that her $161 rent was late, told Radich she did not have $35 for the notice of eviction proceedings starting in court.

The tenant also objected that the court paper was left outside the main door to her building rather than at her door. Radich said that Makeyenko has requested a pass key to enter building hallways and place the notices on a tenant's door.

Makeyenko could not be reached to comment.

e-mail: mhammersley@buffnews.com

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