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City of Polo will soon accept electronic bill paying

The City of Polo will be getting equipped for plastic in the near future, making the lives of bill payers easier.

During its Feb. 20 meeting, the council unanimously approved a merchant agreement with GovPayNet, a service for paying bills online to government agencies via credit, debit, and prepaid debit cards.

City Clerk Sydney Bartelt said the system will hopefully be up and running by May 1, to be in line with the next fiscal year.

According to GovPayNet’s website, the service costs nothing to be adopted and implemented by local governments, including fee liability and hardware and software costs.

Any service fees from paying with cards are charged to the cardholder.

Bartelt said the only cost the city would incur would be requiring a custom software build, which she said is highly unlikely.

Alderman Justin Grobe wanted to know whether or not it was certain that would be the only condition in which they would be charged.

“Through my business, I’ve been told certain things with my credit card machine, and it is definitely not what they told me,” said Grobe. “Mine costs over $150 per month whether I run a card through it or not.”

Bartelt said the service should provide a huge convenience to the public.

“There’s so many people that come in here asking ‘do you take debit or credit?’, and we don’t,” said Bartelt. “I, personally, hardly use cash anywhere.”

She also said it will hopefully alleviate ongoing issues with delinquent water bill payments.

On the subject of delinquent water bills, the city will no longer be hand-delivering pink slips to citizens delinquent on water bills.

Normally, a citizen receives a mail notice to pay a late bill. If it is not paid within 12 days after that, a pink slip is delivered in person by city employees.

Now, delinquent notices will simply be sent in the mail, with pink warnings on the envelope.

The change comes as part of the initiative to tighten up policies regarding delinquency on water bills, and the cost the city incurs through administration fees and calling in off-duty workers to turn water back on after late payments.

Alderman Randy Schoon, chairman of the Water & Sewer Committee, said that the policies are not intended to punish anyone suffering from financial stress.

“We know that there’s going to be someone coming through those doors that has fell on hard times, somehow - whether it be medical issues, or whatever the case may be,” said Schoon. “We’re not going to play the Grinch; if, in fact, things like that happen, we’re still going to have some sort of a heart here and try to help people out.”

The city council meets again on Monday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at the Polo City Hall, 115 S. Franklin Ave. The meeting is open to the public.

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