Municipal Court Explores Accepting Plastic Payments
Council authorized the borough manager and chief financial officer to investigate the possibility of accepting credit cards for court-issued fines.
As a potential means of boosting its fee collection rate, the borough is looking into accepting credit card payments for municipal court-issued violations. It currently accepts only cash or check payments.
"In this day and age, rather than having a judge have to say, 'We’ll put you on a pay plan and an honor system,' saying that you can go right outside and charge the whole thing on your credit card and deal with your credit card company is absolutely the way to go," Deputy Mayor Ed Trawinski said. "I have no hesitancy about this at all."
Court administrator Claire Cabibbo said other municipalities that had started accepting credit cards reported increased collection rates and that she saw no downside to making the move to plastic.
In the past, the borough has been hesitant to accept credit card payments for a number of reasons, municipal clerk Joanne Kwasniewski said.
Namely, it did not want to pay the credit card processing fee.
Although Cabibbo said she knew of banks that would agree to waive the processing fee, Kwasniewski said that in return they often reduce the rate at which accounts accrue interest and pass the processing fee onto the customer, who is loathe to pay it on top of a municipal fine.
"But things may have changed," Kwasniewski added. "It's been a couple of years since we've talked about this."
Trawinski said the borough would hardly notice a reduction in its account's interest rate.
"We’re getting such an infinitesimal rate," he said, "that the collection rate in the court, if it improved 5 percent as a result of this, would more than offset what we’re getting in the interest."
Going forward, council members agreed that the manager and chief financial officer should try to negotiate a deal with the bank to waive credit card processing fees and then report back to council.