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Fees prompt Scarborough to stop accepting credit cards

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Fees prompt Scarborough to stop accepting credit cards

SCARBOROUGH — It was a topic of debate for last year's Finance Committee. Now, with town officials scrambling to save money, the town has decided not to accept credit cards for tax bills and other fees paid at Town Hall.

Last year, credit card processing fees cost Scarborough nearly $115,000, according to Town Clerk Tody Justice. Even after charge limits were reduced last year from $8,000 to $4,000, credit card fees have topped $60,000 this fiscal year, she said.

The decision to ban charge cards could upset some residents, who in the past have charged property tax payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to get credit card reward points, Town Manager Tom Hall said at Wednesday's Town Council meeting.

Debit cards will still be accepted and residents may continue to use credit cards for online payments to Community Services, Hall said.

By next year, he said, the town hopes to have a process in place that would charge credit card fees to the consumer, allowing their use once again.

The new policy will go into effect Feb. 15.

Hall also announced Wednesday that he and town staff have developed an interactive tool for residents to see where their property tax dollars go.

For example, if a home is assessed at $200,000, at the current property tax rate of $12.15 per $1,000 of assessed value, $776 per year goes to the municipal portion of the budget and $1,550 to the school portion. On the municipal side, $20.56 would go to the municipal building, $57.46 to the library and $235.66 to police administration and police services. On the school side, $631.86 would go to regular instruction, $28.13 to extra-curricular activities and $171.20 to facilities maintenance.

For a property assessed at $500,000, $1,940 goes to the municipal budget and $3,875 goes to the school budget, with $51.39 going to the municipal building, $143.65 to the library and $589.15 to police. On the school side, $1,579.64 would go to regular instruction, $70.31 to extra-curricular activities and $428 to facilities maintenance.

In all, residents will be able to check more than 40 categories to see how their property taxes are allotted. The Tax Rate Breakdown tool will soon be available on the town's Web site.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.