Seaford considers online payments

By Lynn R. Parks

Members of the Seaford City Council got their first glimpse recently of a system that the city may use to enable residents to pay tax and utility bills online.

June Merritt, city director of finance, said that the Web Inquiry and Payment Portal (WIPP) software from Edmunds and Associates in Northfield, N.J., would work well with the city's current computer system.

The program would allow residents to view their payment history 24 hours a day. Residents who wanted to pay a bill would pay a service fee of 3 percent, if they use a credit or debit card, or $1.05, if they pay the bill directly from their checking account.

The service fees would go to the company collecting the payment. The city would not receive any money from the service fees.

Cost to the city for the WIPP software would be $2,400. Merritt said that that money was included in this year's budget.

The city would also have to pay for yearly updates to the software. Merritt estimated that the updates would cost less than $1,000 a year.

City manager Dolores Slatcher said that this type of online payment would enable the city to avoid responsibility for credit card information.

Residents would not be able to pay with credit cards at city hall or over the phone.

"The city wouldn't have any access to credit card information," Merritt said.

A proposal to buy the WIPP program will come before the city council at the Nov. 27 meeting. Slatcher said that if the council approves its purchase, the payment option would become available after the first of the year.

The city already accepts direct payments from banks, at no charge. Those transactions can take several days to clear. Residents can also arrange with the city to have payments automatically withdrawn from their checking accounts. Those withdrawals are made on the first of every month.

Dan Cannon, a city resident who has encouraged the city to make it easier for residents to make payments directly from their checking accounts, called the program "a step in the right direction."

Speaking from Florida, where he was on vacation, he added that he will have to get more information about the program before fully endorsing it.

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