June 11--DOBSON -- The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts has announced the total cost of a credit card payments system project at nearly $460,000 (as of April 30). This cost includes purchasing equipment and courthouse signage. Officials estimate there will be ongoing annual maintenance costs to monitor and maintain the web based applications, associated security costs and equipment maintenance and replacement.
Surry County Superior Court Clerk Rebecca Brindle wants the word out citizens can pay fines and related court costs by using their credit and debit cards. The system has been rolled out in Surry County since May 16.
"In this day and time few people carry cash," said Brindle. "This is a big part of why I think this is an important option for people. It's a sign of the times and It is a more convenient option. We want people to be aware this option is out there. I think a lot of people don't know we've implemented this."
Information supplied by Brindle indicates the courthouse is able to accept American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa along with a valid, government issued photo ID. As of May, the system had been implemented in 100 counties throughout the state. Credit or debit card payments must be $1,000 or less and can be applied to criminal, civil and other fees, (with the exception of alimony, bond forfeiture, cash bonds, child support purge payments, civil judgments, condemnation awards, disputed funds, rent bonds, trusts and upset bids.
Brindle explained theses categories were exempted because of the increased financial risk involved with them. A convenience fee is charged at the time of each credit or debit card payment and is goes to a third party company. Information from the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts states most monies received do not stay with the courts but go to other state and local government agencies.
Prior to the acceptance of credit cards, courts accepted only cash, money orders or cashier's checks when citizens had to pay fines and related court costs at the courthouse. Brindle said another aim of the new system is to improve court efficiency as end of day register close out procedures are faster with less time spent counting cash drawers.
Six counties (Alleghany, Forsyth, Halifax, Mecklenburg, New Hanover and Union) piloted the system in December of 2013 and it was rolled out county by county with statewide implementation completed last month, ahead of the statute mandate of Jan 1, 2015.
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