Columbia County residents paying their property taxes online might get a waiver for credit card fees if they pay within a month of receiving their bill.
At a Monday meeting of the county's Management and Financial Services Committee, Tax Commissioner Kay Allen asked county commissioners to pick up the tab for a 2.4 percent service fee charged by credit card companies for online payment of property taxes in the first 30 days after the mailing of the tax bills.
The tax commissioner's office offered the waiver last year for 33 days and, initially, Allen wanted to extend the waiver period to 90 days this year.
She changed her mind after a tense budget meeting with commissioners Monday morning.
"In light of what was discussed this morning, we may need to tweak that," Allen said.
Last year, the county covered $24,000 worth of credit card fees during the first 33 days and pulled in about $1 million in property tax payments, Allen said.
"I don't have a problem with the 30 days," Commissioner Diane Ford said.
"The 90 days, I don't know about."
Allen argued that the county's cost to cover the fee is made up by the savings in manpower. She also said October is the county's slowest month for obtaining revenue and the added $1 million can help.
"I would just hope we manage our finances so we don't get into a $1 million bind," Commissioner Steve Brown said.
Allen also asked commissioners to consider waiving a $4.50 fee to renew car tags online.
"We have good participation on that, but it's not as good as I'd like for it to be," she said. "In order to encourage people to use that medium, if we could lower the fee I think that would entice people to use that and they wouldn't need to come in."
Again, Brown was reluctant to acquiesce to the request.
"The people online are the only ones receiving the benefit," he said. "You're just serving a few at the expense of all."
The committee agreed to conduct a study of Georgia counties comparable to Columbia County to examine what they offer in the way of online payment of property taxes and car tags.
Allen expects property tax bills to be mailed in mid-August.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.