Horry County considers passing credit card fees on to citizens

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - When you come here to the Horry County Government building to make a payment, you could end up paying more. If you're quick to swipe your credit card to pay for any of the county's services, you may soon have to pay an extra fee.

The proposed fee is similar to the extra credit card fee you sometimes pay at businesses, but now the county government is jumping on the bandwagon. This would be payments for services like EMS, code enforcement, and business license payments. The Horry County Treasurer's office pays out $46,000 in fees every single year, and that amount is increasing, because paying with plastic is becoming more and more popular.

Horry County Treasurer Roddy Dickinson says the fees should be passed on to you.

"I just believe that it's fair for the people that actually use these cards to be paying for it, and not the other taxpayers in Horry County, because it does cost the Horry County government," explained Dickinson.

Horry County Council will have to approve this before you see the fee. But when it comes to paying taxes on your property or car, you're already getting slapped with a fee: $3.95, or a certain percentage of your bill, that's how much more it costs taxpayers to swipe a credit card to pay their taxes.

There's a bill in Columbia right now that proposes to forbid county governments from charging you for using a card, but Horry County's response is that it can't afford not to. Right now, about 5 percent of all taxpayers in the county use credit cards to pay for their taxes, like property taxes or to register their cars. It may not sound like a lot, but Dickinson says that 5 percent equals out to about $20 million in tax payer money. When you factor in those credit card fees, it's $300,000 in extra money that has to be paid out every single year.

Dickinson says it's not the county's fault you have to bear the bill.

"These fees are credit card fees," said Dickinson. "Horry County does not get a penny of that money. This money is passed on to the credit card companies. They're the ones that are making the money, not Horry County."

While the bill is being debated, Dickinson says the county will keep charging the credit card fees. Taxpayers also get a warning. Employees with the Treasurer's Office tell WMBF News they always ask if the person paying is willing to accept the charge, before adding on that extra fee to a bill.

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