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City charges user fee for some credit card payments

Feb. 13, 2011 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 12, 2011 at 8:13 p.m.

O.C. Garza

By O.C. Garza

When did the city begin charging a convenience fee for paying city bills online or over the phone with a credit card? Are there payment options where I am not charged any fees?

The ordinance that approved a convenience fee of $3 per credit card transaction online or by phone was approved by the city council on Dec. 14 and was implemented on Jan. 3, the first business day of the this year.

The $3 convenience fee is charged on all credit card transactions taken either over the phone or online, but other payment options with no fees are available.

The city first offered credit card payments as an option in 2001. We did not charge any fees for this service and absorbed the cost of these transactions for the first 10 years. The use of credit cards for paying city bills increased during the past decade as have the costs associated with accepting credit card payments.

Like many businesses, the city initiated the fee because our costs for providing this convenient payment option have increased substantially. In our last fiscal year alone, the city incurred about $120,000 in fees for credit card payments. If you do the math, this adds up to a lot of money over the past 10 years.

This fee is really a user fee, only customers using a credit card over the phone or online are charged the fee, and the fee helps cover the cost of that service.

To answer your second question, yes there are payment options that have no fees associated with them. There are no fees charged when paying by check, cash, automatic bank draft, or when paying in person using a credit card.

I see that the book "Eat, Pray, Love" was chosen for this year's Victoria Reads program. Will the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, visit Victoria to discuss her book?

Yes. As you know, the Victoria Reads program selects a book for the entire community to read and discuss. Thanks to The Victoria College Lyceum Series and Friends of the Library, Elizabeth Gilbert will be in Victoria on March 30 to discuss "Eat, Pray, Love" and her other books. Her presentation will be at The Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Victoria at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are free by calling 361-573-3291. There are other events planned for Victoria Reads. For more information, visit the Victoria Public Library website at www.victoriapubliclibrary.org/default.asp

Can leftover light cooking oils be run through my garbage disposal?

No. Never put any cooking oils or grease down the drain. Our pretreatment department recommends that after cooking, pour leftover grease and oils into covered collection containers like an empty mayonnaise jar, and dispose of it in the garbage. To lessen the impact of oils and greases when washing dishes, don't run hot water over dishes, fryers or griddles to wash oil and grease down the drain. Instead, wipe them with a paper towel before washing and put the dirty paper towels in the garbage. Another way to help prevent sewer lines blocked by grease and oils is to use environmentally safe cleaning products instead of harsh detergents or cleaners that can damage sewer lines. If you generate large amounts of used cooking oil, recycle it at the Huvar Recycle Center.

Send your questions and comments for any city department or activity to City of Victoria, Public Information Office, P.O. Box 1758, Victoria, TX 77902, or pio@victoriatx.org.

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