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Export officials put an end to the waiving of late fees

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 6:15 p.m.

Late means late when it comes to Export sewage bills.

The borough no longer will waive the $25 late fee for any sewage bill received after the 20th of each month.

After discovering that sewage secretary Marlene Mahinske had waived the fee for at least one customer, solicitor Wes Long decreed that late fees can not be waived.

“If you don't pay your Visa (credit card), you get a late fee,” Long said. “This is how we got into the position where we were owed $60,000 in sewage fees.”

Bill Pyle, who owns three properties in the borough, questioned the late fee after missing the deadline to pay his bill by a few days in April. He called Mahinske, who waived the $75 in fees since Pyle was a first-time offender, and was notified of the new policy.

He called the fee “exorbitant.”

“At first I thought it was a mistake,” Pyle said. “I'm shocked you would pass a 70-percent late fee for one month.”

Councilman John Nagoda said the fee was necessary, citing the nearly $65,000 in past-due sewage bills the borough has whittled down.

“We were dealing with people who hadn't paid their bill in five, 10, 20 years,” Nagoda said.

Mayor Michael Calder likened the situation to being pulled over by police and ticketed when he didn't realize that his vehicle registration had lapsed.

“Even though I have a spotless record, I was given a ticket for $170,” Calder said. “The officer told me ‘Maybe next time you'll pay more attention to the laws.'”

Pyle said he thinks the fee is ridiculous. He said he wishes the borough would reconsider.

“Seventy percent, all at once, I was just shocked,” Pyle said. “I think you're taking advantage of people paying the bill.”

Long said while some fees might have been waived since the policy was adopted in October, the borough will no longer offer grace to first-time offenders.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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