UNION — The City of Union has suspended implementation of a fee that would be charged city customers who pay for municipal services online.
During its August meeting Tuesday evening, Union City Council, at the recommendation of Finance Director Walker Gallman, voted to authorize Mayor Harold Thompson to suspend the implementation of collection of a convenience fee on online payments for city services.
In making the recommendation, Gallman told council that when it passed the 2014-2015 municipal budget a provision was included “to allow for the collection of fees for the use of credit cards to pay for city services.” Since then, Gallman said that he has researched the matter further and found out that “there is different terminology and logistics for use of credit cards. A fee on a credit card that is used by a customer that comes to or calls City Hall to pay is a surcharge. If a customer pays online via the internet the fee is referred to as a convenience fee.”
Gallman said that to collect the surcharge on customers who come to or call the City of Union Municipal Building, the city’s software provider must first make a change to their software. He said that “once in place the system will calculate the fee once the customer indicates to us that their payment method will be by credit card. We anticipate having this change in place by Oct. 1, 2014.”
At the present time, the city is charge a 2 percent fee by its banking institution for credit card payments made either by phone or in person. He said that fee will be passed along to customers once the new system is in place at the beginning of October.
Gallman said that the issue of convenience fee for online payments was discussed at length by city staff which concluded that “we should suspend implementation of this fee. Our conclusion is based on the fact that online payments are automatically posted to customers accounts, saving us time and manpower. This saving helps offset the cost of online processing of credit cards.”
March Of Dimes
In other business, council voted unanimously to allocate $1,000 from the Community Services-Special Events Account for the city’s March of Dimes Partnership Commitment.
The background to the recommended allocation states that the March of Dimes is “one of the most recognizable health charities.” The goal of the organization in South Carolina is “saving SC’s babies and giving every baby a healthy start” and that “93 cents of every dollar raised in South Carolina funds the mission.” It further pointed out that “1 in 7 babies are born premature in South Carolina” and that “premature birth is the leading cause of infant death.”
Council also voted unanimously to approve first reading of an ordinance rezoning property at 510 South Pinckney St. “to allow the construction of a single-family house by Habitat for Humanity of Union County.”
The proposed map amendment that accompanied the rezoning recommendation states that the property is currently zoned as Business Zone A-2 (Highway Commercial) which “does not allow single-family as a permitted use.” The amendment proposes that the property will be rezoned as Residential Zone R-6 which allows for “single-family, two-family, and multi-family dwellings and for related recreational, religious and education facilities normally required to provide an orderly and attractive residential area.”
After being rezoned, the property, which is currently a vacant lot, will be donated by the city to Habitat for Humanity of Union County.
Before an ordinance becomes law in the City of Union there must be two readings of it approved by council. Second reading of the ordinance will be held at the September council meeting.
Council also voted unanimously to reappoint Melissa Brown to the seat she currently holds on the City of Union Municipal Election Commission.