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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Town of Southington to accept more credit card payments

As published in the Record Journal Tuesday January 15, 2013

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

SOUTHINGTON — Town Manager Garry Brumback announced during Monday’s Town Council meeting that a credit card company has been contracted to expand and connect card payment services to several departments in the town, moving residents a step closer to experiencing a totally digital Town Hall.

The change will allow residents to pay bills online using credit cards. Currently, credit cards can only be used in the Sewer Department, and at the town clerk and tax collector’s office, and each office uses a different point of sales vendor.

“Town Clerk Leslie Cotton has chaired a committee that has consolidated credit card function throughout town,” Brumback said during Monday night’s meeting.

The town has hired PayGOV to extend credit services to the Building Department, Planning and Zoning Department, Engineering Department and Parks and Recreation Department. The change will allow all departments to use the same vendor.

Cotton said that members from several town departments assisted on the committee that she chaired. Cotton said that the committee initially found nine companies, before narrowing its search to four “to bring in and make a presentation.”

After almost six months, Cotton said the committee chose PayGOV “because this is their specialty.”

The company specializes in providing point of sales services to municipalities. Cotton said PayGOV has clients in 30 states, but is just now expanding into the Northeast. “We would be the first in Connecticut,” Cotton said.

PayGOV is offering to install services free of charge. Cotton said the company will be in town beginning the installation process next week.

According to the company’s website, PayGOV “facilitates electronic payment for government and utility payments.”

“Our system allows for use of your card to pay government or utility obligations,” the company’s website states. “With our payment solution, you are able to make a payment for: taxes; utility bills; tuition; licenses; fines and fees.”

“We felt this was a really good choice for us,” Cotton said of choosing PayGOV.

The company’s services will be phased into six new departments, but current services at the tax collector’s office will remain for the time being. Cotton said the department will install the new credit service “in a couple months.”

Residents who chose to pay the town through this service will be charged a convenience fee, Cotton said. Currently, residents are charged either 3 percent or $3 per transaction in the town clerk’s office, and that fee will only go down with the PayGOV. Cotton said the fee per transaction for the company will either be 3 percent or $2. Fees in the Tax Collector and Sewer Department offices are lower, at 2.54 percent, and that lower fee will be honored with the new service provider. The company’s services are “renewed on a monthly basis,” Cotton said.

Town Councilor Dawn Miceli commented that the service will help move Southington closer to Brumback’s goal of a digital Town Hall.

“This seems like such a convenience to residents,” she said.

In other Town Council action, Brumback announced the timeline for the budget process. He said he received budget requests from department leaders on Friday. On Feb. 18, the Board of Finance will receive and review requests before holding a public hearing on March 4. After the public hearing, the Board of Finance will adopt a budget and submit it to the Town Council on April 1. The Town Council will have until May 31 to adopt the town’s final budget for fiscal year 2013-14.

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