Weatherford Democrat

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November 13, 2013

‘Taxing the tax’?

Officials reviewing fees county charges people using credit, debit cards

(Continued)

“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.”

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