august, johnstown, johnstownindependent, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews

Transaction fees for online payments to be reduced

Monday August 24, 2015 8:51 AM

ohnstown residents can expect to see lower transaction fees when paying their utility bills or mayor’s court citations online.

Village Finance Director Dana Steffan said at the regular Village Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 18, the village has entered into a new five-year contract with Official Payments and changes will take effect by the end of September.

For utility payments, there will be a $1 fee for payments made by debit card and $2.95 for credit card payments. For paying mayor’s court citations it is $1.95 fee by debit card and $3.95 for credit cards.

The new contract features lower overall transaction fees to customers and eliminates the payment amount cap of $200.

Previously, if residents needed to pay a citation of $500 they would have to do two separate transactions, which meant two fees.

The old contract’s transaction fee mayor’s court citation payments was $3.

Each month about 50 village residents use the online system to pay mayor’s court citations and 100 use it to pay their utilities.

Similar to the old contract, there are no fees paid by the village.

Steffan said discussions about the new contract began in June when the village looked into potentially using a different payment system.

However, Official Payments representatives worked with village officials and in order to stay competitive, re-negotiated the company’s terms.

Official Payments, based in Georgia, is used by more than 4,600 municipalities in all 50 states.

Steffan said the village currently uses another third party administrator for utility payments.

In addition to the customer transaction fee of $3, the village pays a monthly administration fee and convenience fees for the utility payments service provider.

“The only reason we are using this provider is that they do not impose a cap on payment amount,” Steffan said in an e-mail. “We have several customers and business accounts that need to routinely pay more than $200 per month.”

Steffan said as soon as the Official Payments contract is in place in late-September, the village will discontinue using the other service.

Meghan Ward, a Johnstown Police Department dispatcher handles mayor’s court citations and said the new changes would be positive.

“This will make it less confusing for people when they are attempting to pay a large sum, also less time consuming,” she said in an e-mail.

In other council news:

* The village council set this year’s Trick or Treat time from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29.

* Construction on Concord road is coming along. The first layer of asphalt was applied by paving the entire 24-foot roadway in one pass, in order to eliminate the center seam.

* The Licking County Health Department reported to village officials that mosquitos with West Nile Vile were found in Belt Park and in the Leafy Dell neighborhood.

The next day, the health department fogged the entire village at no cost to the village.

* The next regular village council meeting is Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. at 599 S. Main St.

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