Saranac Lake village will take credit, debit card payments

SARANAC LAKE – Village residents will soon be able to pay their tax bills using credit and debit cards, for a fee.

Village Treasurer Paul Ellis said the village has been working with the same vendor it uses at Mount Pisgah Ski Center – Nationwide Payment Solutions of Maine – to install a credit and debit card payment system in the village offices.

He said the installation should take about a week, and he expects the village will begin to take credit and debit card payments by May 1.

“It’s not limited to just taxes,” Ellis said. “Water and sewer bills, building permit fees – any item that we take over the counter will be able to be done via credit card.”

Under General Municipal Law, Ellis said villages aren’t allowed to absorb the cost of transaction fees for credit and debit cards, so there will be a fee for village residents using those forms of payment. The fee will be 2.45 percent of the payment or a minimum of $3.

“The customer will receive advance notice of what the fee is and can opt out or choose an alternate method,” Ellis said. “It’s not like we’re trying to do this to the customer, but we’re prohibited from absorbing those fees.”

Ellis said he expects more people will use credit and debit cards to pay their water and sewer bills than to pay their taxes.

While the new system will only allow for over-the-counter credit and debit card payments at the village offices, Ellis said the village has looked into the option of online payments. It’s complicated by the fact that the village has to be able to pass a data file back and forth between the online system and the village’s accounting system, he said.

“I was, a couple years ago, working with one of these vendors, but they weren’t returning phone calls because they were so busy with larger municipalities, they didn’t want to spend time with somebody our size,” Ellis explained. “But if you go with a lower-end vendor, they might be here today and gone tomorrow. I want to make sure that if they’re holding village funds, let’s say during tax collection time, and they went under, I want to find a reputable vendor that can post a bond and I can get that money back.”