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February 24. 2013 11:00PM

Nashua City Hall now accepts credit cards

NASHUA - For the first time ever, credit and debit cards are being accepted for many transactions at Nashua City Hall.

"Twenty-first century, here we come," joked Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, who said that by March 1, a majority of city departments will accept plastic.

In December, a soft launch of the program was initiated in the Motor Vehicle Department and Community Development Division.

"It has gone very smoothly. Our customers really seem to like it," said David Fredette, city treasurer.

Most of the credit card transactions are being used to pay for vehicle registrations and new license plates, according to Fredette, who said Visa, MasterCard and Discover are being accepted. So far, City Hall is averaging about a dozen credit card transactions a day, but Fredette expects the usage will increase significantly once more of the city departments are offering the service.

He explained that there is a fixed, 2.95 percent fee to use a credit card or debit card at City Hall, but said most people don't seem to have a problem paying $3 extra for a $100 transaction.

"It is mostly about convenience and customer service, which is something the mayor has been promoting," said Fredette. "We have been wanting to do this for quite a while."

In addition to the new credit card program, the city is also launching more online services such as vehicle registrations and dog licenses, according to Lozeau.

"The program will continue to expand within other areas of city government, and additional options will be added for customers as our capabilities allow, hopefully to include property taxes," said the mayor.

There is an existing city ordinance that prohibits property taxes from being paid with credit or debit cards, Fredette said, adding that legislation should probably be revisited by city officials.

However, Fredette said electronic checks are permitted to pay tax bills. Sewer bills, building permits, electrical permits and summer park and recreation programs will also be available for purchases online, but will require the small fee, he said.

Fredette expects motor vehicle transactions, which now average about 7,000 a month, will account for most online activity.

The wastewater bills will likely be a popular online service as well, he said. The new, online services should be available at the beginning of April. A notice will be mailed to customers with their bills, informing them about the online program, added Fredette.

"Our goal is to get as many city services as possible available to our citizens in the most accessible way," Lozeau said.

khoughton@newstote.com


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