Payment Dispute Between County Officials Ends - The Missourian: Local News

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Payment Dispute Between County Officials Ends

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 5:30 pm

Ending a months-long disagreement between two local elected officials, the Franklin County Commission approved a vendor to process taxpayer credit card payments.

“I’m just glad we got it done,” Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer said after the Tuesday commission meeting.

Griesheimer and county Collector of Revenue Linda Emmons had been at odds over which company to use for credit card payments and online payment of property taxes.

Ultimately, the commissioners went with the company that Emmons had wanted to use all along.

“I’m pleased,” Emmons said.

Despite some of the animosity that occurred between Emmons and Griesheimer over which firm to use, First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said he is pleased that the two officials were able to resolve their differences.

Emmons said it wasted a lot of time for the county to look at other vendors when her preferred firm, Federal Payments of Allen, Texas, could have been selected in the first place.

But the fact that the commissioners went with her choice showed that she was right all along, Emmons added.

Emmons has said that she was ready to approve an agreement with Federal Payments last November, but she said Griesheimer refused to sign off on it.

But Griesheimer said it was his understanding that the agreement he refused to sign had nothing to do with online payments, which is a service he wanted brought to the county.

However, Emmons said if Griesheimer would have signed that agreement she could have already offered taxpayers the convenience of online payments.

Griesheimer also was in talks with another firm called EZ Pay to offer the credit card payment services and online payments. But he said Federal Payments ended up giving the best presentation to the county.

Emmons opposed using EZ Pay, saying she worried that the company’s fees would be too high and that it did not have the programming in place to handle billing for her office.

Throughout her disagreement with Griesheimer on which firm to use, Emmons consistently said that Federal Payments is already doing online payment services for more than 20 county collectors in Missouri.

Under the contract, the county will not have to pay any money to Federal Payments other than spending about $229 to buy some credit swipe machines for Emmons’ office.

Griesheimer noted that the county was able to get Federal Payments to include six free, small credit card swipe machines in the agreement.

The county does not have to pay for anything else related to the contract because Federal Payments makes its money by charging service fees to taxpayers.

For credit cards it is a 2.5 percent fee; electronic checks have a $1.50 flat fee, and debit cards have a $3.95 flat fee.

Griesheimer said the goal of offering credit card payments and online payments is to bring more convenience to the taxpayers.

He said Emmons’ office may be the only one that offers online payments for the time being, but other offices will be able to process credit cards in person.

Other offices that will have credit card machines will be the recorder of deeds, building department, information technology, health department, planning and zoning and municipal court.

Emmons said it may take some time for people to get used to the idea of paying their property taxes online, but she said the system also will allow people to pay over the phone.

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