Akron City Council is considering offering an online option for income tax payments, but residents who use credit cards or e-checks would be charged a small fee, as would residents paying their water bills the same way.

Akron City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday approved an ordinance that would allow the city to enter into a one-year contract with Official Payments Corp. to offer online credit card payments, online e-check payments and interactive voice response payments for the city’s utilities and income tax divisions.

The city already uses the company to process online water, sewer and curb service payments, which it has done for several years, said Akron’s deputy director of finance, Steve Fricker.

If council approves the new one-year contract at its next meeting, city residents who also want to pay their income tax bills online would be able to do so.

“When Akron residents e-file their tax returns with us, they can actually pay with their credit card online,” said Fricker, who said the city used to offer the online payment option for the city's tax division several years ago.

Under the proposed contract, residents would also have to pay a convenience fee for both water and tax bills, a fee the city has been covering for the last several years “because we wanted to make it easy for our customers,” Fricker said.

Fricker said the city is no longer able to cover the fee, as it’s eating into the water department’s revenue.

“With our water system, the challenges that we have in maintaining that system, we feel like we can no longer absorb that fee,” said Fricker, who said by having residents pay the fee instead, there should be “a little bit of additional revenue to invest in the infrastructure of our water system.”

Residents who make water payments online would pay a $1.95 fee per credit card transaction or 70 cents per e-check transaction.

Residents who make income tax payments online would pay a fee of 2.25 percent of the total transaction amount per credit card transaction or a 70-cent fee per e-check transaction.

Fricker said the city has other payment options available that don’t include the fees, including mailing in payments, selecting a direct deposit withdrawal from a customer's bank account or dropping off payments either in the public utilities office or in the dropbox outside the City Center.

“There are a number of options for paying your utility bill that do not have a fee associated with them,” said Fricker, who said the one-year contract will allow the city to see how well it works.

In other action Monday, council’s planning committee approved scheduling several public hearings.

A Nov. 13 public hearing was scheduled to discuss a planned self-storage facility operated by Storage of America in the former Macy’s, 2000 Brittain Road, at Chapel Hill Mall.

Public hearings were scheduled for Nov. 19 to discuss a planned convenience store at 359 Eastland Ave.; a parking lot addition at 722-726 Sherman St., near East Voris Street, requested by Flagship Akron Investments LLC; and the construction of a gas station and convenience store at the southeast corner of Brittain Road and Eastwood Avenue, requested by Circle K.

 

Beacon Journal writer Emily Mills can be reached at 330-996-3334, emills@thebeaconjournal.com and @EmilyMills818.