published Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Criminal Court, trustee to get bill payment upgrade

  • photo
    Hamilton County Commissioners conduct business during a commission meeting in this file photo.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Residents seeking to pay property taxes or fees to Criminal Court with plastic will soon see a boost in convenience and savings.

Under a contract with LexisNexis VitalCheck Network, Criminal Court Clerk Gwen Tidwell said Wednesday, her office will be able to accept payments online for the first time. Currently, residents can only pay court fees in person during office hours or over phone -- and the office does not accept personal checks.

"I don't know if it will actually increase payments, but it will certainly increase convenience for [residents]," Tidwell said.

Hamilton County commissioners unanimously voted to approve the contract Wednesday at a regular meeting. Joe Graham, the body's Finance Committee chairman, said the move was a good deal for taxpayers and government offices.

The new contract will allow residents to pay with a debit card, an e-check or a credit card -- although processing fees will apply.

Debit cards and e-checks will get have a $2 processing fee, and credit cards will have a fee of $2 or 2.39 percent, whichever is higher, Tidwell said.

Trustee Bill Hullander is taking advantage of the new contract, too. His office collects property taxes for Hamilton County, Collegedale, East Ridge, Lakesite, Red Bank, Ridgeside, Soddy-Daisy and Walden.

His office has long been able to take payments online, but some of his convenience fees are going down.

Property owners who use credit cards to pay their tax bills will be charged 2.39 percent of the transactions. But if they use a debit card, it will be $2 -- and $1 for an e-check.

Hullander said the new contract will be in effect for the 2014 tax bills, which will go out in October.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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