Online payments may take longer than new year

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino Dunkirk Treasurer Mark Woods has begun the process for the city to accept credit card payments, but said online payments will take longer to happen.

A pre-New Year’s resolution for the city of Dunkirk is to have 21st century payment options in place by the start of 2018. However, Treasurer Mark Woods said that is likely not possible for online payments.

Resolution 104 was presented to the Common Council at the most recent meeting with the mission of taking “the next step and offer(ing) an online bill payment system as well as a credit card payment option to evolve and adapt to the changing world” by Jan. 1.

Woods said the first step toward accepting credit card payments has been made.

“The mayor, Marsha (Beech, fiscal affairs officer) and myself met last week with representatives from Key Banks’ municipal banking credit department. We are in the process of accepting credit card payments. We’re waiting for a proposal from the bank for review. It will be brought to the finance committee meeting for their review and we are in the process of implementing that system,” he explained.

However, due to security protocols, Woods said he didn’t feel online bill pay could be up and running by the New Year.

“Just for the record, as far as the online bill payment system, with our existing software, number one, and the necessary steps that would have to be taken to implement that system, we cannot meet a January 1 deadline. We will work toward that as quickly as we can, but just so that everyone is aware, we will not be able to make a January 1 deadline for online bill payments,” he said.

Woods said a third party may need to be brought in for web security. Assessor Tom Mleczko and Clerk Edwin Ramos noted there would need to be some input of information for tax and ticket information that will need to be kept private for ratepayers.

Resolution sponsor, First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr. said he did not want to change the date of the resolution.

“We’ll keep the public updated as we get closer. The target date is the first of the year. If we don’t put a date in there, it goes off into no where. I think it can be done, maybe not as quick as January 1, we don’t want to rush it and risk anything for privacy or identity for any of the residents that would be using it,” he said, adding that if Key Bank cannot make it happen, maybe Community Bank can. “By January 2 we will have a date that it will be in place. I hope that’s fair enough for you (Woods).”

Woods agreed as long as the public has a reasonable expectation on the timeframe.

The resolution was passed unanimously. Mayor Willie Rosas added that the city intends to offer this service with no added fees on top of those levied by credit card companies.

The finance committee will meet on Nov. 16 at 4 p.m. in city hall.