CARMEL, N.Y. - The town of Carmel’s Recreation Department will soon take credit cards both onsite and online for program registration fees and the payment method could expand to other town departments as well, including the receiver of taxes.
Town comptroller Mary Ann Maxwell and Recreation and Parks Director Jim Gilchrist gave a presentation to the Town Board at its meeting last week and said that Recreation Department employees will begin training to use the new credit card processing system sometime this month.
Maxwell and Gilchrist met last month with representatives from Elavon, a credit card processing company that works with Tompkins Mahopac National Bank. The Recreation Department, Maxwell said, will soon implement a new software known as Capturepoint that will enable it to take the credit card payments. Elavon officials said that they can easily connect and work with Capturepoint.
Maxwell said that Elavon has offered the town two billing options for accepting credit cards.
“In my opinion, [the first option] seems to provide a more simplified billing approach and will be easier to forecast and budget going forward since the pricing and billing are fixed for all card types,” Maxwell wrote in a memo to the Town Board. “It is possible to switch to Option 2 once we get a better idea of what kind of credit card volume to expect.”
Maxwell told the board that she believes the credit card payment option will be well received by the community. She said the plan is for the Rec Department to be able to take cards at its Sycamore Park office as soon as the software is up and running and then add online capabilities later this fall.
“We don’t have a credit card swiper at Sycamore Park, but they can do online registration on the computer in our office,” she said.
Maxwell said that once the Rec Department has the software up and running and she has a better idea of how the processing and billing works, the town will consider accepting credit card payments in other departments such as the Town Clerk, Building, Planning, as well as for taxes, alarms and water billing.
Maxwell said the town would not be able to issue a surcharge to cover the its expenses when residents pay with a credit card for recreation programs because state law prohibits it for recreation departments; however, she said it would be allowed for things such as water and alarm bills.
“People should be able to go online and pay their alarm or water bills,” she said. “And for that we could add a convenience fee of like three percent.”
Until now, bills, permits and program registration fees had to be paid by check or in cash. Deputy Supervisor Frank Lombardi said that taking credit cards will help reduce the chances of theft.
“You’ve seen it happen in other towns,” he said. “I think it is well worth the effort because we eliminate the cash aspect of it.”