Customers may soon say 'charge it' for Jackson electric bills

Thursday, May 27, 2004

You don't need cash to buy fast-food burgers anymore. You don't even have to enter the store to pay for your gas.

Soon, Jackson residents might be able to pay their electric bills and deposits with credit and debit cards, too.

The Jackson Board of Aldermen will consider accepting debit and credit cards at its next meeting.

"A lot of people -- probably 20 people a month -- ask me about debit cards," said city collector Brenda Bartels. "There seems to be an interest, especially with new people coming in."

Bartels said the proposal before the board is to allow debit or credit-card payments for electric bills and deposits only.

The city of Perryville has accepted debit cards for a few years and has had no problems. The same is true for Cape Girar-deau County.

County Collector Dianne Diebold said the county offers the service for the convenience of customers, but does not recommend it because of the nearly 5-percent service fee that is attached.

Jackson will have to pay $235 up front for the equipment and the finance charge that goes with it will be passed on to the customer. The finance charge is currently about 3.5 percent, so if a customer pays $100 for his electric bill and uses his debit card, he'll have to pay $103.50

Jackson's board briefly discussed the issue at Monday night's study session and no opposition was voiced.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson said Cape Girardeau has not considered going to a credit and debit card system.

"To my knowledge, there hasn't been a big outcry for it," he said. "There is a cost to transacting business that way and I'm not certain if citizens would be willing to bear that cost."

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

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