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Warren County adding property tax payment kiosk due to virus fears

Warren County Treasurer Barney Wright
Warren County Treasurer Barney Wright

Spurred by COVID-19 exposure concerns, Warren County is adding a kiosk for property tax payments.

On Tuesday, the county commissioners approved Treasurer Barney Wright’s plan to contract for for the kiosk accepting cash or credit, and its maintenance for five years.

In late April, the commissioners agreed to consider bids for the service, the first set up in the county government, other than one used in the county jail for bond payments.

F&E Payment Pros, a Northfield, Ohio, company already handling credit card payment services for the county, is to be paid $27,575 over five years.

“I’ve been thinking about this for some time,” said Wright after Tuesday’s meeting. “I think this is good business.”

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In addition to reducing public contacts with staff, including two in their 60s and one in 70s, as catching the new virus remains concern, Wright and Commissioner Dave Young agreed the kiosk would ultimately save the county money through reduction in staff.

Young said he was skeptical about bringing in a kiosk when there were indications the new virus could be a short-term problem.

“Where you got me and I agree with this is efficiencies,” Young said, whose skepticism about the state shutdown has been raised in public, along with those of other county officials.

Wright said seeking informal bids was wise in light of the range of responses, some as high as $125,000 for the same service. State law on government service kiosks also called for the process.

The delay means the kiosk is unlikely to be in place in time for second-half property tax payments, due July 29, although it could serve delinquent filers in the fall, Wright said.

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“A lot of the smaller counties don’t have anything like this,” Wright said. “It’s another complication they don’t feel they need to deal with.”

Larger counties have used kiosks for years, he added.

The office will still be able to accept payments, although precautions set up do limit interaction with taxpayers.

Maybe other departments will follow, Wright said.

Commissioner Shannon Jones congratulated Wright, an elected official with authority to make such decisions himself, for working with the commissioners on the process.

“People are looking for more electronic means,” Jones added.