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Village of Colfax to accept online credit card payments for utilities, ambulance

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  The Village of Colfax has taken another step into the technology age.

The Colfax Village Board at the September 14 meeting approved contracting with a company called Government Payment Services, Inc. (GovPayNet) to set up an online account to allow Colfax residents and people in the Colfax area to pay water and sewer utility bills and ambulance service bills with a credit card over the Internet.

Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, reported that she had researched four different companies and was recommending GovPayNet.

Electronic credit card payments for utilities and ambulance bills will be a convenience for those who want to pay by credit card using the Internet, she said.

The GovPayNet service does not cost the village any money, but instead, charges a fee to the user based on the amount of the transaction, Niggemann explained.

The average utility bill in Colfax is $150 per quarter, she said.

According to a chart Niggemann included in the Colfax Village Board packet, a utility bill of between $100 and $150 would cost the person using the credit card $4. If the payment is between $150 and $200, it would cost $6.

Each additional increment of $50, or a portion of that amount, would cost an additional $1.50.

At that rate, a $1,000 ambulance bill would cost the person using a credit card $30 to complete the transaction.

Village board members wondered about payments to the police department.

Scott Gunnufson, village president, noted that payments for ordinance violations in Colfax go through Dunn County.

Police Chief Bill Anderson said people pay parking tickets at the Colfax Police Department, but they tend to pay those by cash or check.

If the police chief finds there are quite a few people each month who want to pay parking tickets by credit card, it is easy to add another icon to the system, Niggemann said.

Security

Once the system is set up on the Village of Colfax website, when people are ready to make an electronic payment, they will be transferred out of the Colfax website to the GovPayNet secure website, Niggemann said.

One of the other vendors will work with WorkHorse, the computer software the village uses for accounting, she noted.

Colfax only has 500 utility bills sent out all together every quarter. If the village were receiving 100 credit card payments per day for utilities, it might be beneficial to go with that company, she said.

Once GovPayNet receives a signed agreement from Colfax, it will take three or four weeks to set up the village’s account, Niggemann said.

“It’s a great idea. This way, the village does not have to worry about having a secure website (for credit card payments),” Gunnufson said.

One hurdle with the online payment system is that people will have the option of mailing in the payment with the credit card number, Niggemann said.

By law, the village cannot keep a credit number on file.

The part of the sheet containing the credit card number would have to be cut off and shredded, but the rest of the sheet would have to be kept on file to document that the bill was paid by credit card, Niggemann said.

“Sheila will post the payment, and it will go into the shredder next to her desk,” she explained.

Time savings

Gunnufson wondered if online payments would save time for village employees.

“There’s no time savings really,” Niggemann said.

With GovPayNet it will be a matter of checking the bank deposit to make sure the payments are there as opposed to opening an envelope, finding a check and processing the payment, she said.

In addition to Gunnufson, village trustees Carey Davis, Annie Schieber and Dave Wolff voted in favor of the motion to contract with GovPayNet.

Village Trustees Susan Olson, Mark Halpin and Jeremy Klukas were absent from the meeting.