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District Court now accepting credit cards

March 26, 2012
By JOHN PEPIN - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The Marquette County Board recently approved a couple of measures recently that will allow credit card payments to district court, increasing the convenience for the public and likely more payments being made on-time.

"It makes a lot of sense," said Marquette County District Court Magistrate Charity Mason. "It doesn't make sense to turn people away from the window who are here to pay something."

The first measure, which should be available within a month, will allow for credit card payments at the district court window for payment of a range of fines and fees.

Article Photos

Marquette County District Court Magistrate Charity Mason addresses the Marquette County Board recently. The board recently passed a measure that will allow credit card payments to district court for fines and fees, providing added convenience for the public and court staff. (Journal file photo by John Pepin)

"(Currently), anyone wishing to use a credit card has to call an 800 number and the convenience fees are prohibitively high (close to 10 percent)," Mason said.

The county uses GovPay as a third party vendor to process credit card payments.

Under the provision passed by the board, the court will amend its service contract with GovPay to allow for direct point of sale transactions at the court customer service window, with much lower convenience fees (3 percent on average and 7 percent for bond).

Mason said there would be no start up or annual fees.

"Because the convenience fees would be paid by the user, the county would not absorb any additional cost to utilize this system," Mason said.

Mason said a countywide contract would be drafted with GovPay, which would allow any county department to take advantage of third party processing. One office that could benefit from the program would be the sheriff's department because it would be able to accept bond payments after the close of business and on weekends, which could help ease jail overcrowding.

The second measure the county board approved will prove even more convenient for the public and will be available within a few months. Drivers who get traffic tickets will be able to pay the fines for those tickets on-line from their home computers.

Instructions for how to do so will be provided by police when tickets are issued.

To use this procedure, the county will into into a new merchant agreement with Elavon, a vendor selected by the state. Because of the state's negotiations with Elavon, the fees are lower for the county, amounting to about 1.85 percent of the fine per transaction. The county would pay about $200 in start-up fees and annual support fees would cost about $500.

Mason said using the state sponsored system would allow ticket information to automatically be updated in the county's case management system, saving court clerks from having to do the updates.

"A ticketed individual could pay the ticket online and our clerk would never have process the payment or close out the ticket," Mason said.

Mason projects the staff time saved would be about 50 to 100 hours each year. The cost to the county each would range from $5,000 to $10,000.

Mason predicted 15 to 25 percent, or between 1,000 and 2,000 of traffic tickets issued each year, would be paid using the on-line system.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.



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