County offices soon will accept credit cards
8:26 p.m. EDT August 21, 2014
MANSFIELD â€“ People who do business in at least four Richland County offices will be able to pay fees, fines and court costs with a credit or debit card within the next two or three weeks.
County commissioners Thursday approved contracts with two companies to provide credit card processing services.
County officials began looking at processing services over a year ago at the request of Clerk of Courts Lin Frary, who felt the ability to accept credit card payments would allow her to continue to reduce a backlog of unpaid court costs and fees.
County Treasurer Bart Hamilton recommended the county contract with PayGov.US to process transactions for the Clerk of Courtâ€™s office, and for Forte Payment Systems Inc. to do the processing for his office and for Richland Public Health. He said PayGov best meets Fraryâ€™s needs, while Forte is the most experienced for his office and is able to take credit cards at a remote location, such as an immunization clinic.
Central Services director Cathy Mosier said she reviewed both bids, talked with the companies and found out PayGov also can provide remote swipe service. She said she does not know if the companies would agree to divide the business because she was advised by the prosecutorâ€™s office to wait until after commissioners acted on the issue to talk with them.
Commissioner Tim Wert favored awarding two contracts.
â€œEach entity satisfies the needs of different offices and I think thatâ€™s the prudent thing to do,â€ he said.
Mosier said Juvenile Court will be the fourth office to initially have credit card service. She said Richland Newhope and Children Services have expressed an interest and she is still talking with the auditor, codes and permits and wastewater.
Frary said her legal and title offices have people asking every day if they can use a credit or debit card to pay. She said she hopes accepting cards will save the county money and enhance collections.
â€œPeople on probation have to pay their fines, costs and restitution before they can satisfactorily complete probation,â€ Frary said. â€œIf they use the option, they may be paying sooner, which means they get off probation sooner and weâ€™ll see more lump sum payments, which will help people victimized by crime get restitution sooner.â€
Officials say it will take two to three weeks to order and install equipment and train employees. People who pay with credit or debit cards will pay the processing companiesâ€™ swipe fees.
Commissioners also awarded a contract to Trinity Services Group Inc. of Oldsmar, Florida, for food service at the county jail, juvenile detention and the Community Alternative Center. The company submitted the lowest figure of four firms that bid, with its cost of 93.4 cents per meal, 10-cents lower than the bid from current provider Aramark Inc.
Commissioner Ed Olson said the new contract will save the county an estimated $56,000 per year, based on the average of 920 meals served per day at the three facilities.
According to jail administrator Capt. Chris Blunk, the contract covers new state specifications for healthy food requirements for juvenile detention. He said he also hopes Trinity will continue a â€œfresh favoritesâ€ option that allows county jail inmates to buy items such as hamburgers and French fries at extra cost, with the profits going to the inmate welfare fund.
Commissioners also approved a $9,095 contract with Stephen Campbell and Associates for 18 digital recording devices for 911 and the sheriffâ€™s office. The purchase will cover every channel of radio traffic that needs to be recorded at the two departments, and is part of the conversion of radio communications to digital.
Emergency 911 administrator Lisa Burdine told commissioners that new digitally controlled 911consoles have been installed and that digital radios will be installed next week.