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City of Casper planning to start passing credit, debit card service fees onto customers

The Casper City Council talked about passing credit card fees to City of Casper customers on Tuesday. (Screenshot via City of Casper, YouTube)

CASPER, Wyo. — On Tuesday, City of Casper staff presented a proposal to the City Council to start passing credit and debit card service fees onto customers.

Currently, the city pays such service fees when customers choose to pay with credit or debit cards. The City Council indicated during Tuesday’s work session that it supports the concept of passing such fees onto customers, and a formal resolution to change the policy will be considered at a regular council meeting.

City of Casper customers will be able to avoid the credit and debit card service fees if they pay bills using cash, checks, money orders or automated clearing house cards. If people choose to use credit or debit cards, the service fees will apply when making utility, community development, solid waste, police, cemetery, engineering, and metro payments. The Casper Recreation Division operates using a different credit card processing system than other city operations, but is separately contemplating a change to begin passing service fees onto customers, Johnson said.

The service fees will be 2.95%. There will also be a minimum fee of $2 plus the 2.95% service charge if the bill is too small for the 2.95% to reach $2. Therefore, minimum fees will apply to bills under about $68 paid using credit or debit card, Casper Financial Services Director Jill Johnson told the City Council. The city will not collect or see revenue shares from the service fees as these will be collected by third-party card processors.

The city’s Finance Committee discussed the proposal in July and reached a recommendation that the city begin passing service fees onto customers as other government entities and businesses do, Johnson said. Passing the fees onto customers could result in about $168,500 in budget savings, primarily from utility service fees the city currently absorbs, according to Johnson.

Councilmember Lisa Engebretsen said she thinks passing credit card fees onto customers is reasonable as it is becoming commonplace.

“I think [the] public [is] getting more and more accustomed to getting fees pushed onto them,” she said. “As long as they know they have to pay these fees, I don’t think the public is going to have much of a pushback.”

One nuance to the City Council’s conversation relates to the Community Development Department. With Community Development considering transitioning to an electronic system and possibly accepting only credit or debit card payments, Johnson said the City Council could consider having the city continue absorbing service fees rather than passing those onto customers.

For the time being, however, Community Development will continue accepting other forms of payment. If a transition to only accepting credit or debit card payments is made, Vice Mayor Bruce Knell and Councilmember Kyle Gamroth said they think the city should absorb service fee costs.

If customers have options to pay city bills using methods other than credit or debit cards, Knell and Gamroth were in agreement with other councilmembers that passing the service fee onto customers would be reasonable. With the city absorbing card fees, Knell noted that this amounts to taxpayers in general subsidizing such fees for individual city customers.

“I don’t think all taxpayers should be paying for those that pay with a credit card,” he said.

Knell added that he thinks credit card rewards can outweigh impacts from service fees passed onto people.

Details regarding the proposed policy change are available in the following staff memo: