Lebanon utility customers can now pay their bills by credit or debit card.
“We had our first payment at the window [Monday] with the mayor,” said Robert Springer, the city’s commissioner of finance and revenues.
Residents can now pay their water and sewer and gas bills, business license fees and property taxes by Visa, Mastercard or Discover.
Customers can go the city’s website and click on a link to enter their payment information, or they can pay at the window or over the phone.
According to Springer, customers cannot yet pull up the amount owed – they must either get the amount from their bill or call the city to get the amount – but he said that will change within about the next four months.
“We’re looking at upgrading the software for utility billing in about four months; then they can go in and pull up and look at their entire bill,” said Springer.
The fee to pay by credit card is $2.95 per bill, and the maximum amount that can be processed on one payment is $400. For bills larger than that, the customer can pay in more than one transaction.
The credit card processing fee will be added to the total payment amount for each transaction. Springer said the city opted to assess the fees that way as opposed to raising rates to cover it because not everyone will pay by credit card.
“It’s more fair for everybody who chooses to use it to pay the fee,” said Springer.
He said he expects the new capability to not only offer more convenience for customers but to also save the city money and time.
“Today we had somebody call in whose utility account was scheduled for cutoff tomorrow and they called wanting to know if they could pay by credit card,” said Springer. “We were able to take their payment over the phone, and it saved them from having a $40 reconnection fee, and it also saved the city because we didn’t have to make a trip to cut off and another trip out to cut back on.”
Additionally, Springer said he expects the credit card capability to reduce the amount of window traffic.
“I think it’s going to allow us the opportunity for some reorganization,” said Springer.
He said it’s still too soon to tell how popular the offering will be, but he’s optimistic.
“I think it’s going to take several months for us to know the extent, but just hearing people come to the window [Monday] and their comments, I think it’s going to catch on pretty quick,” said Springer.