Friday, November 13, 2009


DOGGIE SEE DOGGIE DO: In these times of idiotic penny-wise pound-foolish cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face decision-making designed to avoid the politically distasteful raising of taxes to pay for the state services that we all need and expect, Kaua`i County has managed to somehow avoid similar slash-and-burn cuts in services despite the 10% across-the-board departmental diminutions ordered by Mayor Bernard Carvalho.

But apparently there’s enough lack of forethought to go around as evidenced by yesterday’s county press release announcing “County to end subsidy of online payment user fees”.

It says:

Due to budget constraints, the County will soon stop subsidizing online payment user fees for county services.

Starting January 1, 2010 anyone opting to pay their sewer bill, real property taxes or motor vehicle registration fee online will also have to pay user fees as they do in all other Hawai`i counties.

“Unfortunately, in these difficult economic times we aren’t able to continue to subsidize this cost and feel it’s appropriate to bring our policies in line with the rest of the state,” said Finance Director Wallace Rezentes, Jr.

When someone makes an e-payment with an electronic check, the user fee will be $1 plus an additional $2.50 transaction fee.

Those paying with a credit card will be charged 2.2 percent of the transaction amount and an additional $2.50 per transaction.

Well, all things being equal and assuming it’s all true and has been well thought out, who can argue with that?

The problem is that the release goes on to say:

In addition to online payments, residents and businesses can also pay their sewer bills, real property taxes, and motor vehicle registration fees by mailing a check or going to the appropriate county office to pay. No user fees are charged for these forms of payment. For more information, please call 241-4269 or 241-4271.

So let’s get this straight. The presumably automatic computer-driven method of payment that needs little or no additional actual work by the county to process is now going to cost customers but they can either go down to the office and take up the time of a county worker to process the payment and forward it to the bank- or mail their payment in where an employee has to open the envelope and do the same- is going to be free while we’re going to be nickeled and dimed to use the easy. cost-free method.

Now we’re not ones to demand that government work more like a business. Government, by definition, is there to take on collective tasks for the common good- ones that business cannot accommodate. That’s why by it’s nature, government cannot really be run like a business.

But in this case we’re simply dealing with a time and energy saving, ubiquitous technology that virtually all money-transacting ventures can and do use in a most contrary manner.

Have you tried to buy an airplane ticket or order items from a business lately? Invariably you’ll find a fee for picking up a telephone and talking to an customer service rep who will instruct you that if you want to save on the processing fee instituted for taking up the employee’s time you can go on-line and complete the same transaction for free.

So what’s the deal? Who thought this one up? Is it because everyone else- i.e. the other counties- are doing it?

At the risk of sounding like mom we have to ask “if the other counties jumped off a bridge- or for that matter spent $12 million on it instead of $1 million as was mentioned in this space Wednesday- would you do the same?”

Another day another answer to the question of whether anyone here can play this game.

1 comment:

Rob said...

of course absolute power is corrupt absolutely.
and the inverse of intelligence is government intelligence.