Tompkins County
New York

Report or Discussion Item

Credit Card Acceptance


Department:Finance DepartmentSponsors:
Category:FiscalFunctions:Fiscal Target Impact

Meeting History

Sep 6, 2017 3:30 PM  Government Operations Committee Regular Meeting

Mr. Snyder distributed and reviewed the contents of a packet containing answers to questions that have been raised. He noted the figures presented are part of a national database and are not specific to Tompkins County.

Mr. Burbank asked if data could be gathered for Tompkins County and Mr. Snyder said he doesn't have this information but a request could be made for the data to a financial institution based on their customers. Mr. Burbank said a concern expressed about moving to a credit card system that was raised was the possibility of making a situation worse by placing those who are already economically marginal at a greater risk with an additional fee.

Mr. Klein clarified that the decision before the Committee is whether it wants to proceed with a resolution that says how credit card payments for the County would be implemented. Mr. Snyder clarified that if we were to implement this there would be no cost to the County; the cost would be borne by the user; not only would the County have no cost there would be no revenue raised from it.

Ms. Kiefer suggested it may be possible to get local usage information by querying local banks that issue credit cards.

Ms. Chock referred to numbers presented showing a breakdown of credit card use and users and said although they are lower than she expected them to be they are still higher than she would like. She asked what the benefit is to the company when the cost to implement it is zero. Mr. Klein stated the fee on a $1,100 tax bill would be $30. Ms. Chock said the company would make lot of money at the expense of Tompkins County constituents who would be paying the fee. She thinks she owes it to the taxpayers to find out what other vendors are out there and how their charges would compare for both the County and taxpayers and would like this information before moving ahead with a particular company. She said she would also like to see the tax bill include information on what the extra cost would be by paying by credit card. She noted the transaction fee is different from any interest charges that would be assessed and would like this also noted on the tax bill.

Mr. Snyder said there is one tax-collection software program and because this is the same company that works with that it would be simple to go live. Any other proposal would involve a cost because it would have to develop a proposal to work with the existing software. He responded that the County can make adjustments to what appears on the tax bill.

Ms. Kiefer said there is a high price of convenience to using a credit card and she is not supportive of pushing people to use a credit card. She commented that she would have liked to have data based on Tompkins County residents.

Mr. Mareane said if the County was to put a large amount of money through a credit card system it would not want to give up the approximate three percent charge that would be associated with credit card and cannot charge the taxpayer directly. There would need to be a third party intermediary between the County and the customer that would collect that and take a portion of it and the difference between vendor costs would come from that. He referred to Mr. Snyder’s comment about the existing vendor being able to switch over to this and said this provides that vendor with a competitive edge.

Mr. Burbank questioned what the cost would be to process a credit or ACH payment. Mr. Snyder said there would be savings in staff time by allowing use of credit card. Mr. Burbank said if this moves forward he would like it made clear to taxpayers that there is a cost. He said he would like to see if anyone could provide local information on whether this would heighten the debt spiral.

Ms. Chock suggested using convenience checks for credit cards as they would eliminate the credit card charge and suggested exploring whether a local bank would be willing to work with the County to provide this option to taxpayers.

At this time there wasn't consensus to bring a resolution back to the next meeting; however, Mr. Klein said members would talk outside the meeting.