The Whakatāne District Council has agreed to extend the convenience of credit card payments to ‘over-the-counter’ transactions and increase the number of services which credit cards can be used to pay for.
At present, credit cards can only be used for online payments of rates, water rates and dog registrations, with customers paying a commission charge of 1.8 percent on top of their account balances. However, with a newly negotiated arrangement trimming commission costs by up to two-thirds, Council elected members last week agreed that the commission should be absorbed ‘as a cost of doing business’ and the credit card facility extended to include over-the-counter payments for rates, water rates, building and resource consents, dog registrations, fines and fees and charges.
The move is expected to reduce the bank fees the Council currently pays for cheque and cash payment processing, cut the staff time required to process payments and reduce overdue payments and debt processing costs.
While the proposal drew majority support, concerns were expressed that the expansion of credit card payment opportunities would encourage some people to incur debt they couldn’t afford.
The Council’s finance department advises that paying rates and water rates by direct debit still offers the most convenient option for all parties, with its ‘set and forget’ approach meaning payments are always made on time.
The Council is also endeavoring to make a non-credit card payment option available for all online payments, ahead of the forthcoming introduction of online building consent applications and the issuing of dog registration invoices for 2017/18.