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Fees could halt online utility bill payments in Waynesboro

July 06, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Consumer fees associated with online utility bill payments could derail the Borough of Waynesboro’s effort to offer the service to its customers.

Assistant Borough Manager Jason Cohen updated the Waynesboro Borough Council on an initiative to offer electronic methods of payment for water, sewer and trash bills. Customers could pay using credit cards, debit cards and electronic checks.

Customers choosing to pay online, rather than mail or drop off payments, face a $3.50 fee per transaction, Cohen said.

He said that fee is based on costs for credit card companies, credit card processors (merchant services), and the online system (gateway provider). Each credit card company’s fees vary, as do the fees associated with different types of cards, like those with rewards points.

“These fees are only applicable to online transactions,” Cohen said of fees for Waynesboro customers.

Waynesboro Borough Council members expressed concerns about the $3.50 per transaction fee. They chose to put a hold on the project until they can discuss the matter further at a workshop meeting.

“There is no way I’m going to pay you $3.50 to send you an electronic check. That just not going to happen,” Councilman Ronnie Martin said.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said there is no true benefit for the municipality or Waynesboro Borough Authority when accepting payments online.

“This is solely for the convenience of the payer. ... It’s all voluntary,” Hamberger said.

Other towns report 10 to 20 percent of customers use electronic bill-paying, Cohen said.

The Waynesboro Borough Authority, which manages the water and sewer systems, has 5,500 customers, Hamberger said.

Cohen said American Express’ fees were so high that he feels those cards should not be accepted for water, sewer and trash payments.

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