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February 20, 2013

Commissioners authorize fee on credit card payments

NEW CASTLE — The Lawrence County commissioners authorized a fee Tuesday for those using credit cards to pay taxes or other county services.

The exact fee, referred to as a convenience fee, has yet to be determined, but could be set at Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting. The move is being made as a cost savings for the county.

Commissioners Robert Del Signore and Steve Craig said they needed additional information before approving a contract with TransFirst Holdings of Hauppauge, N.Y., to handle the credit card processing at a rate of 2.45 percent per transaction.

The resolution authorizing a fee, which Del Signore opposed, was initially tabled, but approved later in the meeting.

The county paid approximately $60,000 in processing credit card transactions last year at a rate of 3 percent each.

County Treasurer Richard Rapone said his office accounted for about half that through the payment of taxes.

Rapone said TransFirst would provide his office with two credit card machines costing $395 each.

Craig said he wanted to hold off on voting on approving TransFirst to see if the commissioners could expand it to offices besides the treasurer’s office. He also questioned whether the county would have to pay a service fee for the machines.

Del Signore said the commissioners received the information at the last minute, adding there were “no negotiations by anybody.”

He also said he believes the fee is too high.

Del Signore said he wants to meet with someone from EST face-to-face before voting to approve a contract. EST of Greensburg, a software firm selected by the county, is subcontracting to TransFirst.

“I think we need to have a sit-down to make sure we have the right price.”

Rapone said his office “did its due diligence” to get the best price, noting he contacted three firms.

Craig said it is the first time the commissioners heard of the $395 cost. Two units, he said, are “no big deal,” but 10 units for all offices would be.

“The concept is great. It’s the particulars we need to take a look at.”

Later in the meeting, Rapone said he had checked with EST and found that no service fee would be included for the treasurer’s office. He also said the company said the machines could be provided at its cost — for about $300.

Noting that 2013 property tax statements have to be mailed next week, Rapone said he is not comfortable with mailing them on Monday without an agreement. The statements, he said, have to be mailed by March 1.

Del Signore again said the information came to him too late.

“I don’t want to move quickly. It’s shrouded in smoke.”

Rapone reacted, “There’s no smoke, We’re completely transparent

“This was the best deal for the taxpayers.”

The commissioners could possibly meet with an an EST representative as early as Wednesday to have questions answered.

“I think we can reach an agreement,” Craig said.

(Email: jmanna@ncnewsonline.com)

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