Bartow County tag office adds payment options
by Jason Lowrey
Aug 10, 2014 | 2924 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tag Agent Krista Moore, left, processes Johna Tidwell’s new tag request. In addition to cash, the Bartow County tag office is now accepting credit and debit cards for payment. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Tag Agent Krista Moore, left, processes Johna Tidwell’s new tag request. In addition to cash, the Bartow County tag office is now accepting credit and debit cards for payment. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Residents who walk into the Bartow County tag office now have an option: paper or plastic?

After acquiring a new payment processing system from Courtware Solutions Inc., the tag office has been accepting credit and debit cards for the past two weeks. Tax Commissioner Steve Stewart said the department had long been planning on offering the convenience to county residents.

“I think it’s something that we’ve needed for a while. ... Even when [VaLenda Baily] was in office it was something that if she had another term she probably would have done, but she wanted me to pick our processor,” Stewart said. “I kind of made — throughout the campaign I had promised the public to put this in. I think it’s going to help — it’s not something we’re making them do. It’s just another method of payment that we’re offering.”

The county charges a 2.5 percent convenience fee with every debit and credit card transaction. Stewart said the fee goes directly to Courtware to cover their costs in providing the service. Any funds from the fee do not go through the county.

“We don’t get anything out of it except the convenience,” he said.

The lower convenience fee was one reason why Stewart selected the company.

“For first thing, they’re competitive,” he said. “The rate’s right there, probably less than a lot of them. That’s the first thing I look at for the public.”

According to its website, Courtware has more than 18 years of court-oriented programming experience and serves more than 200 courts. Stewart said the company is expanding into the county tax commissioner market, and he expected additional counties would subscribe to their services.

“Well I liked, at the end of the day, they worked with the state better through the GRATIS system. At the end of the day it’s easier to tabulate our drawers with this company. I look for a lot of counties to change. They’re relatively new. They’ve been in this business a long time, with the clerks of court and the probate judges, but they’re just getting into it with the tax commissioners,” he said.

“... This company too had no binding contracts for anything. If we didn’t like them tomorrow we could be out of business with them. The rest of them had reoccurring costs for the year, annual reoccurring costs, plus the processing. This company didn’t have it. There was a lot of reasons we went with them. But at the end of the day, to me, they’re the better processor.”

Credit and debit card payments started at the tag office so any bugs and procedures could be worked out. Stewart hoped to have the system installed in the tax office by the next tax season.