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Payment options expand

JACKSON – Residents of Northampton County should soon be able to easily pay their water bills over the phone or online. The Board of Commissioners approved the change here Wednesday during their regular meeting.

Assistant County Manager Nathan Pearce presented the information in place of Public Works Director Kirk Rogers who was unable to attend the meeting. The request was to authorize a service agreement with Bankcard Associates, LLC who will provide an electric phone pay and web pay service for citizens to pay their water bills.

Pearce explained the Water Department currently accepts payments by mail, walk-ins, drive thru, drop box, bank drafts, and card payments via phone.

“I know our clerks now are handling credit cards over the phone, and it’s taken up quite a bit of their time and citizen’s time,” he continued, noting the additional payment options will help alleviate some of the pressure on the staff.

The new payment methods will be available as a 24-hour service, so people will not be constrained by the office’s 5 p.m. closing time.

Pearce continued by explaining the department already has the computer software available to use. It simply had not been utilized in the past.

He also noted a 3.5 percent third-party fee for customers who use these new payment methods.

County attorney Scott McKellar stated he had already reviewed and revised the contract, noting a few important details for the commissioners.

“It’s a three-year fixed term contract that rolls over, however we can terminate it at any time without any termination fee,” the attorney explained.

The Board quickly agreed the increase in payment options would be beneficial to the citizens. Commissioner Fannie Greene stated it was much needed, and Chairman Robert Carter noted the added convenience.

“I think many people have found themselves in a bad situation because they could not make the time frame,” Commissioner Geneva Faulkner also added in support of the request.

Pearce concluded his presentation by stating the phone pay system could be implemented by the middle of September with the web payment option following another two weeks later.

Greene motioned to approve the contract with Bankcard Associates, and Commissioner Chester Deloatch seconded. The vote passed unanimously in favor.