Updated Wed, Jan 8, 2014 2:19 pm
If all goes as planned, property owners in Athens County will be able to pay their property tax bills online.
On Tuesday, the county commissioners authorized County Treasurer Bill Bias to enter into contracts for development of a website that will allow online payment of tax bills, and for installation of a check-scanning system. Both contracts will be with a company called CheckPros, although Bias said the website work will be subcontracted. The amount of the scanner system is $13,495, while the website work will cost $6,000.
Bias said people who choose to pay their property tax bills online will have to pay a convenience fee, although the amount of the fee will vary depending on the circumstances. However, taxpayers will be able to see the fee amount before deciding whether to go ahead and pay online, Bias said.
The check-scanning system will allow the treasurer’s office to more quickly process checks it receives from taxpayers, according to Bias. Information from the scanned checks will be electronically sent to a bank for deposit, and the check will then be shredded — although a photo image of it will be retained.
Bias said he had a concern that if there were a fire, paper checks could be destroyed. He said he considered purchasing a fireproof safe or cabinet, but opted instead for the imaging system.
By scanning and immediately shredding the checks, they can be disposed of quickly.
“It will increase our security up in the office,” Bias said.
Although Bias had talked with the commissioners previously about the expenditures, he came to their meeting Tuesday to ask them to immediately give authorization. He said time is needed to install equipment and train staff, and the target for having first-half property tax bills go out in the first week of February.
The commissioner will front the money for the expenditures, with the cost to be repaid to their budget from money the county plans to borrow for capital projects.