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Credit Card Payments the Next Step in Establishing 'Virtual Town Hall'

Southington's town departments are prepared to enter an agreement that will let residents pay by credit card, even online, for all town business.

Southington Town Manager Garry Brumback came to the town at the start of 2011 with the goal of establishing a virtual town hall that would allow residents the comfort and convenience of being able to conduct all business online.

With the leadership and assistance of Southington Town Clerk Leslie Cotton, the community has taken a giant step forward this week, announcing that they will now offer credit card payments, both in person and online, for six town departments.

“It’s a move that will bring credit card payments online for all our major departments,” Brumback said. “It’s something that will improve service and convenience.”

The town previously accepted credit card payments for the Southington Town Clerk, Sewer Department and Tax Collector’s office, Cotton said, but each department was using a separate vendor. These payments were also already available on the town’s website.

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With three vendors, however, there was no streamline to the process and fees were assessed with a minimum of $3 per transaction or 3 percent of the transaction. The new process will bring all activity under one vendor, Cotton said, with all six departments sharing the vendor and convenience fees will be assessed per transaction to avoid any cost for the town or taxpayers.

The decision was made after a six-person panel of town staff, led by Cotton, identified nine banks and firms then narrowed it down to four before conducted interviews.

Ultimately, the town selected PayGOV.US, a credit card processing company based out of Indiana that specializes in providing services to government entities. The company currently provides service in 30 states but has recently expanded into the northeast with clients in New Hampshire and Maine.

Southington would be the company’s first client in Connecticut.

The company is accredited with positive reviews from tax collectors offices nationwide and received positive feedback through Connecticut Conference of Municipalities networks.

“The agreement would Indemnify the town, so if a payment is later rejected, the town doesn’t lose money,” Cotton said. “With this, the convenience fee will now go to just $2 or 3 percent. No one will be paying any more than they are paying now. In fact, many folks will pay less.”

Officials said Monday that the new system will be phased in on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, with the town clerk, sewer department, building and engineering, planning and zoning, and parks and recreation offices receiving the program first. The town will then phase in the tax collectors office, with the system running when in advance to the July 2013 tax bills going out.

Town Councilwoman Dawn Miceli said she sees the move as a logical step for the town as they look to continue to streamline services.

“This is another move toward making the virtual town hall we have talked about all along a reality,” Miceli said. “This is great step forward in providing convenience and service to our residents.”

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Steve B. January 16, 2013 at 05:21 PM
3% convenience fee? I'll pass. They're getting a check in the mail, which will cost me 45 cents and an envelope, as opposed to the $108 I'd add to my $3600 tax bill by using my credit card to get more reward points. I do not feel the convenience.

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