Fee discussion leads to fight
Update: Turns out Hamilton County already levies a convenience fee for credit card property tax payments. Check it out here.
If you get a traffic ticket in Hamilton County, it might soon cost you a little more to pay it--at least if you're planning to do it with a credit card.
County Commissioners voted 2-1 Wednesday voted to explore charging "convenience" fees for credit card transactions. The county is spending more than $700,000 a year to absorb the transaction fees, which are levied by credit card companies. Commissioner Pat DeWine dissented.
Comissioner Todd Portune initially suggested charging the fees for check transactions as well, which elicited a mini-showdown between him and DeWine, who opposes the transaction fees.
DeWine: "So the only way someone could avoid paying this is by sending cash in an envelope?"
Portune: "In parking tickets they could avoid it by not getting a citation in the first place."
DeWine: "What about property taxes? Should they not buy a property in the fist place?"
Portune:"It's about being equitable across the board. This doesn’t put it in place, it just goes forward to see what the most equitable way is to do this."
DeWine: The whole thing borders on absurd. If the idea is to compensate the county for what it is statutarily required to do, it borders on outrageous. If you want ot raise fees, raise fee. Don’t say you’re going to just charge $2 for a credit card or check. At a time when we’re trying to be more customer friendly and keep people in Hamilton County it seems we’re going in the wrong direction."
Portune, who seemed somewhat frutrated at this point, said it would be up to department heads to decide how to handle the fees, but finally agreed to remove the language relating to checks. "I didn’t realize I was going to create World War Three by suggesting we look at checks," he said. "The request came from an elected official who is doing exactly what we are asking department to look at. Lets not create a federal case here where none exists."
All the surrounding Ohio counties charge convenience fees to recoup their costs for some types of transactions like utility bills or property taxes. None of them charge fees for traffic tickets.