Gateway Sun

Most utilities allow you to pay your bill online these days.

The GSCDD is no different.

In Gateway, we can pay our water bills using BlueFin Merchant Service’s epayub.com website, which is used by hundreds of water utilities all across America.

Many utilities charge you a small fee when you pay by credit card, usually few dollars. This is to offset the processing fees charged by the merchant to the utility.

The GSCDD is different.

They do not charge a credit card processing fee. But there’s no reason they can’t.

Florida Statute 215.322(5) states: A unit of local government, including a municipality, special district, …… is authorized to accept payment by use of credit cards, charge cards, bank debit cards, and electronic funds transfers for financial obligations that are owing to such unit of local government and to surcharge the person …. an amount sufficient to pay the service fee charges by the financial institution, vending service company, or credit card company for such services.

An internet search found that plenty of other utilities who partner with BlueFin charge for credit card transactions. One quick example, El Toro Water District charges $2.75 or 3% through BlueFin.

It’s not a ton of money, but for a district that needs to maximize every revenue and cost-saving opportunity, not charging for credit card processing seems to be one area the GSCDD needs to examine.

break-line
So I just paid my FPL bill, GSCDD water bill and CenturyLink internet bill (becuz c0mcast is teh sux) this morning.

With FPL I’m set up to pay using my checking account, but I looked around and saw that I can pay by credit card for a $3.25 fee via Speedpay. CenturyLink charges $3.50 for a credit card payment, however I also paid that by check specifically to avoid the fee. The GSCDD, which I paid by credit card, did not charge me a fee.

But they should have. And could have. (In case Tony needs help, the GSCDD charging a fee is backed up by Attorney General Opinion 2007-25.)

Using round numbers, let’s say the GSCDD has 5,000 utility customers and 500 of them pay their bill online with a credit card each month. Using El Toro’s seemingly reasonable $2.75 figure (still cheaper than FPL/CenturyLink) that would be a yearly sum of $16,500 to the district.

Looking through the GSCDD’s financial documents from October 1, 2016 through April 30, 2017, there is reference of “bankcard fees ($10,253) for utility billing receipts.”

To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s BlueFin’s charges to date this year or not. But it’s the only reference I could find that fits and it seems about right. Plus it’s in the utilities section of the financial documents.

Either way, the district has has to be paying something. Nobody processes credit cards for free.

So why not tack on a fee to the customer? Even if more people choose to pay by check to avoid the CC charge, that’s just as good – because it will reduce the credit card processing fees on the district’s end.

Anyway, I’m just saying they should look in to this.

It can’t hurt.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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