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Penna. Card Options

The Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust signed a contract with PNC Merchant Services yesterday to enable 2,200 municipal bodies to begin accepting credit cards for payment of fines, fees and taxes. PNC also recently won the bid to process cards for all agencies of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PNC has been providing the Pa. Liquor Control Board with processing services since 1987.

Thousands of Pennsylvania municipalities, school districts and authorities will be able to accept payment of various fines, fees and other governmental payments by debit and credit cards under a program announced today by the Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust (PLGIT).

“We continually seek opportunities to assist municipalities in improving their funds management,” said Abram Clemmer, President, Board of Trustees at PLGIT. “Through this card acceptance program, we can help public units improve their cash flow and allow them to offer constituents added convenience,” he said.

Under the new program, Visa and MasterCard debit and credit cards can be accepted for parks and recreation fees and water and sewage bills as well as fees, fines or taxes. By offering residents this additional payment method, municipalities are recognizing the changing role of credit and debit cards in the marketplace. “Consumers increasingly expect acceptance of credit and debit cards as alternative payment methods to traditional cash and checks,” said Marilyn Goodwill, PLGIT Senior Managing Consultant. “Credit card payment of governmental charges provides a cost-effective and widely accepted option to consumers.”

PLGIT, a financial services organization created and run by Pennsylvania local government officials, has contracted with PNC Merchant Services, an alliance of PNC Bank (NYSE: PNC) and the world’s largest card processor, First Data Merchant Services, to process card payments for the municipalities. “With the economies of scale we can offer through an organization representing 2,200 municipal bodies, we have been able to achieve more favorable terms for local governments than they might be able to achieve separately,” Goodwill explained.

“We have signed several significant contracts with government entities that view card acceptance as a means of improving financial performance as well as leveraging technology to eliminate manual processes,” said Paula Kramer, general manager of PNC Merchant Services. “The ultimate benefits are added convenience for the consumer, better financial performance for the government body.”

PNC Merchant Services has been providing processing services for government bodies, such as the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, since 1987. It recently won the bid to process cards for all agencies of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and also supports the City of New York in an innovative program which has deployed 25 automated kiosks that accept credit and debit cards for parking tickets and property tax payments.

The PLGIT program began with pilot programs for Cranberry Township in Butler County, and Shaler Township in Allegheny County. “The success of these programs prompted us to expand to other local government units,” Goodwill said.

According to Vanessa Gleason, finance director of Cranberry Township, a fast-growing suburb of Pittsburgh, “We’re especially happy with the way the program has been accepted by the general public. The credit card program implementation went very smoothly and offers an excellent audit trail for reconcilement purposes.”

Judith Kording, finance officer of Shaler Township, said, “The credit and debit card program has been very successful. “We anticipate offering this program for both earned income and real estate tax payments in the near future. Implementation was easy, with minimal training and expense.”

The Pennsylvania Local Government Investment Trust is a financial service organization created by and run by local government officials, exclusively for Pennsylvania’s municipalities, municipal authorities, schools and other local government-type entities. Founded in 1981, the Trust is a direct result of a Pennsylvania local government study group formed to address the financial services requirement of Pennsylvania public units. Today, seven statewide associations sponsor the Trust. They include: Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Commissioners, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Association, Pennsylvania State Association of School Administrators and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. PLGIT’s E-mail address is [email protected]

PNC Merchant Services is a merchant processing alliance owned by PNC Bank and First Data Corporation (NYSE: FDC), based in Hackensack, NJ, the largest credit card processor in the world. PNC Merchant Services has the largest merchant base in the Middle Atlantic region and supports over 30,000 businesses processing over $7 billion in annual credit card volume.

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