Weatherford Democrat

Aledo ExtrA

November 18, 2013

'Taxing the tax?'

Court to review county fees for paying with plastic


After purchasing a new car, Precinct 4 Commissioner Dusty Renfro set to work reducing the amount Parker County residents pay the county when they use credit cards for county transactions.

He first brought up the subject during budget discussions, when he told the court he went back for his checkbook when an auto registration clerk told him how much extra he would pay for using plastic.

“I turned right around and went home,” he said.

Renfro picked the topic up again Tuesday, saying he had received “several complaints” from county residents. He shared a letter from one constituent.

The letter stated that the writer’s daughter, who had purchased a new vehicle, didn’t have enough cash to pay for a title transfer at the Willow Park auto registration office and was charged almost 7 percent to pay with her credit union check card.

“I am very well aware that government agencies are permitted to pass along the credit card fees to the consumer,” the unhappy constituent wrote. “I would be very surprised if the credit card fees are this high. The standard is approximately 2 percent. That would indicate that not only is Parker County passing along a credit card fee, but is making revenue on top of that.

“Or, to my conservative way of thinking, Parker County is taxing the tax.”

In his opinion, Renfro said, the county just needs to cover the costs. He said other commissioners feel the same and just need to hear the specifics before taking a vote.  

Judge Mark Riley said the system “shouldn’t be that way,” and asked treasurer Jenny Barnwell to visit with tax assessor-collector Marjorie King to come up with a recommendation for commissioners at the next meeting.

County Attorney John Forrest remarked that everyone who attempts to make a credit card transaction is informed of the payment increase.

“All the departments utilize that, even at the JP level,” he said. “Whenever someone comes up, they’re informed of the rate. If that’s too high, they leave and go get cash from the bank.”

King, who said she didn’t know the topic was on the agenda, said auto registration deals with many customers who complain about the 6.85 percent — plus a quarter (25 cents) credit card use rate.

“It is excessive,” she said, “and we’re seeing a lot more people using their credit cards in this economy.”

King said 1.85 percent of the credit card fee goes to Compass Bank, per county contract, while 5 percent goes to Parker County. The extra quarter is an extra fee charged by Master Card, Discover Card and others.

Barnwell confirmed the amounts and said both a local government code and a Texas property tax code put a 5 percent limit on how much the county can charge.

King said she brought the issue to the attention of the auditor in 2010 and sent a memo to several county departments.

“But I don’t think it went to court,” she said.

Commissioners agreed to accept credit cards in 2004, she said, before she took office.

“Why did they set the rate that high?” she asked. “I don’t know.”

The court authorized 10 county offices to use credit cards, she said, adding that JP No. 1 and the tax assessor-collector’s office are the only ones still using the same credit card contract, to her knowledge.

The county has taken in increasing amounts of revenue in the last three years, King said.

“In the calendar year 2012, the credit card fees charged were $73,225, and the county kept $54,884,” she said. “In 2011, the county paid $15,779 to Compass Bank and $40,295 to Parker County; in 2010, the county paid $12,738 to Compass Bank and $34,202 to Parker County.”

King said Barnwell will explore alternative scenarios, including the use of PIN-based key pads.

“A lot of counties use an independent credit card company instead of going through the bank like we do,” she added, referencing the results of a 2010 survey she said she sent to more than 200 counties.

“About 40 responded and were using an independent vendor,” she said.

When asked for an example illustrating the credit card charges, King chose a $20,000 car purchase. She said the purchase, including sales tax, a title application and registration, would result in a $92.43 credit card fee, with $25.15 going to the bank and $67.28 going to the county.

Her example follows:

$20,000.00 cost of vehicle @ 6.25 sales tax = $1,250.00 sales tax

 Customer pays:

$1,250.00 sales tax

   $62.75 registration  

   $33.00 title application


+  92.43 credit card fee ($1,345.75  x  6.85%  = 92.18 + .25)

$1,438.18 customer’s total fee


$1,345.75  x  1.85%  =  $24.90 + .25  =  $25.15(bank)


   $92.43 credit card fee

  -$25.15 bank

   $67.28 county

Text Only
Aledo ExtrA
  • 0725 one arson.JPG Suspicious house fire under investigation

    The Weatherford fire marshal says a fire that damaged a house and killed two puppies Wednesday night is being investigated as a suspicious fire and a suspect is in jail on unrelated charges.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • CPS data.jpg Case overload

    Parker County Attorney John Forrest will ask county commissioners for additional funds as county budget discussions begin this year; he hopes to hire another attorney to help with an increase in Child Protective Services cases.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richard Adams Sr. Firefighter arrested on child sex assault charges

    A volunteer Hudson Oaks firefighter is in the Parker County Jail on charges he repeatedly sexually assaulted two young relatives over a several year period. 

    Richard Frederick Adams Sr., 62, arrested Monday, faces two charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14, a first-degree felony.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Developer withdraws site plan

    ANNETTA —A controversial 34-home subdivision proposed for a 41-acre tract on Duncan Road will not go forward as planned, according to action taken by both the proposed developer and the Annetta Town Council after a public hearing Thursday night.

    July 22, 2014

  • Aledo City Council to meet July 24

    The Aledo City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in the Aledo Community Center, 104 Robinson Court, Aledo.

    July 22, 2014

  • oak leaf ladder shot.jpg Fires damage business, home

    Two separate fires around 2 p.m. July 15 damaged a Willow Park business and destroyed the home of a Weatherford family.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Letter to the Editor

    Dear Editor,
     Thursday night, July 17, I was present for a surprisingly interesting experience when State Representative candidate Matthew Britt addressed a small group of supporters, followed by a question and answer session.

    July 22, 2014

  • ESD 1, Annetta South close on fire station site

    Parker County Emergency Services District No. 1 and Annetta South officials said Tuesday that the ESD is homing in on a site for a new fire station to serve residents in the Annettas and surrounding areas. Annetta South is expected to consider a zoning change to accommodate a new station next month.

    July 22, 2014

  • Registration has begun for Aledo ISD

    Aledo ISD enrollment for the 2014-15 school year began yesterday, July 21, and students new to the district need to register before school begins, Monday, Aug. 25.

    July 22, 2014

  • County scrambling to fill elections post

    Former Parker County Assistant Elections Administrator Laura Watkins, who sought, but was not appointed to the post of Parker County Elections Administrator after Robert Parten retired, last week began work as assistant elections administrator for Palo Pinto County, Palo Pinto County Elections Administrator Judith Evans has confirmed.

    July 22, 2014

Must Read
House Ads
Top News
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive