By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — SARANAC LAKE — The Village of Saranac Lake is updating bill-payment options to accept credit and debit cards.
By the beginning of May, people will be able pay water, sewer and even tax bills, along with parking fines and other municipal charges, using plastic.
The new system will expand to include online credit- or debit-card service sometime next year, according to Village Treasurer Paul Ellis.
For now, people will have to go to the village office in the Harrietstown Town Hall if they want to pay by credit card.
As a municipality, the village can’t include banking costs for debit- or credit-card payments in the bill.
That cost will have to be assumed by the person paying the bill.
“The fee is probably the most important thing for people to understand,” Ellis said.
“By general municipal law, the village cannot absorb the fee associated with credit- or debit-card transactions. The customer will have to pay the fee and will be made aware of the fee prior to the payment being processed.
“They will have the opportunity to accept or decline during the transaction. It carries a 2.45 percent fee, with a $3 minimum.”
READY FOR MAY
Water and sewer payments, taxes, building permits, parking tickets, park-use fees — pretty much every transaction usually paid by cash or check will soon have a credit-card option at the village office on Main Street.
“We’re in the process of getting the equipment, installing it and having training done. We’re looking to be up and running with at-the-counter credit-card payment systems before the first of May,” Ellis said.
The next move — to allow online transactions — requires additional computer security measures, which take more time to implement, the treasurer explained.
“Next year, we will phase in an online payment system. It has to be done with due diligence.”
The village water-and-sewer meter system triggers federal red-flag fraud-prevention security, Ellis said, since usage pertains to individual measure by household.
But the move to accept at-the-counter credit and debit cards is a step toward a service the village has planned for some time, Ellis said.
“This has been one of the things we’ve wanted to do but was postponed while we finished up a few projects.”
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