Social Circle residents can now pay fines online

SOCIAL CIRCLE --The Social Circle City Council has taken steps to automate some of its services and is considering several more.

During a work session on Feb. 9, the council agreed to begin using Courtware Solutions, a court management system that allows people who have to pay fines through the Municipal Court to do so online. City Clerk Susan Roper said access to the system would be linked from Social Circle's website. She said there is no cost to the city for this service and it should reduce the amount of foot traffic in City Hall, particularly on those days just before court is scheduled.

Roper said she was also working with Pinnacle Bank to establish a way for residents to pay their bills electronically. Again, she said, there would be no cost to the city, and it would cut down on the number of physical checks that are processed.

Roper said the need for this service has been highlighted in recent months since the Postal Service moved mail sorting and delivery services out of Social Circle to Covington.

Roper said mail addressed to City Hall's physical address -- 166 N. Cherokee Road -- will not be delivered. Bills and other correspondence must be sent to P. O. Box 310. A number of residents have complained they received late notices even though they mailed their payments on time.

The City Council agreed to allow Roper to pursue this option.

Council members are also considering changing the way tax payments made by credit card are processed.

Mayor Hal Dally explained that residents who pay their city taxes with a credit card are charged a courtesy fee that is supposed to help offset interchange fees charged the city by the credit card companies.

He said the credit card companies regularly modify their options, which affects the interchange fees paid by merchants. Dally said the courtesy fees are no longer sufficiently covering the interchange fees paid by the city.

Roper said she has been in discussions with a couple of local banks about the possibility of replacing the courtesy fee so that the interchange fee is paid directly by the taxpayer.

Dally said he believes this would be a fairer process, but wants to make sure that any change would not adversely impact the local taxpayers. He said, if necessary, he would advocate capping the amount of a tax bill that could be paid by a credit card to protect the citizen since the fees are often assessed based on the amount paid using the card.

Finally, Roper presented to the council an option for paperless meetings with the company, IQM2. She said this system would create agendas for every board and authority and all the accompanying documents would be available online. A separate online window would be available for public access.

The system would streamline other processes in the city, such as purchase orders. Roper said the company will maintain all the data, has redundancy processes in place and provides offsite backup.

The mayor and council agreed to invite a company representative to give a presentation of its services on Feb. 21.