November 29, 2014

Standish to allow residents to pay bills with credit card

Discusses city manager contract

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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STANDISH — Residents of the city of Standish will be able to pay their city bills using a credit card following a unanimous vote at the Standish council meeting May 21.

Later this year, residents should be able to make payments to the city, such as water bills and taxes, online. City Clerk/Treasurer Peggy Burtch said it is the same system currently employed by Arenac County for bill payment.

“I started looking at it about a year ago, when the county switched over,” Burtch said. “I wanted to see how it worked for the county.”

She said employees at the county treasurer’s department have praised the system and the improved rate of payment on delinquent accounts it has brought with it.

Burtch said now that she has council approval, she would be contacting Paymentus, the company that would be setting up the system, to get the ball rolling. She hopes to have it in place by the end of the year.

There is an additional service fee associated with using a card, however. When a credit card is used to pay for something, a portion of the payment goes toward the lending company. For the city to receive full payment on bills, that fee is added on top.

“The city still gets the full amount, it’s just a point of convenience,” Winslow said.

Officials had been looking into making the change, but needed to select a financial institute for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1. Ultimately the council decided to stick with Chemical Bank at the meeting, which paved the way to approve the credit card payments.

The council also went over the details of the city manager contract with Curt Hillman after selecting him to become the official city manager in early May. Hillman had been serving as the interim city manager since August, after his predecessor, Michael Moran, resigned in June.

Winslow said the city had budgeted $50,000 for a city manager salary, with an additional $16,000 for health care benefits. Since Hillman wants to opt out of the city’s health care, however, a portion of that money will be paid out to him every six months as per the union contract.

Hillman will also be added to the city’s retirement plan. Councilmen Jerry Nelson and Doug Ireland wanted him to receive the same 401(k) match other city employees receive, in which the employee puts in 3 percent of their check per week, and the city follows suit with a 9 percent match.

The council agreed to a $52,000 yearly salary, with approximately $7,400 yearly added on for opting out of the health care benefits. A labor attorney will draw up the official contract, which will run for one year. At the end of that year, the council members will revisit it and see if they would like to renew it for a longer period of time.

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