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Granite Shoals online payment system changes; city notifying affected residents

City of Granite Shoals staff are contacting a handful of residents following a “security concern” with the city’s online payment system. The firm in charge of the system immediately shifted to a new one, but it assessed a $5 fee.

Granite Shoals Director of Finance Russell Martin told councilors during their April 27 meeting that the software company that handles the online payment system alerted staff about a potential security concern.

The company discontinued that system and converted to a new one. Martin said 175 people in the previous system were automatically carried over to the new one, but the firm charged $5 per account to do so.

The move and fee were done without the residents’ knowledge. When the city heard what happened, employee Selena Serafin removed those residents from the automatic credit card payment system and began contacting them to explain their options. 

Martin told councilors that 76 residents have since converted to the new system, but they are still trying to contact 10 people. 

Along with paying online, residents can pay city bills in person, by mail, or by dropbox. There is a $3 service fee for payments made online with a credit card and a $5 service fee if paid with a credit card in person at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road.

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

In other news, Assistant City Manager Peggy Smith addressed a question on restarting the Granite Shoals Chamber of Commerce. Councilor Phil Ort received an email regarding the chamber from a resident.

The Internal Revenue Service dissolved the Granite Shoals chamber in 2009 because chamber leaders didn’t meet the federal agency’s requirements to remain active, such as having an annual meeting, Smith said.

Restarting the chamber would require paperwork and an $800 filing fee, but the real costs would likely come once the organization got started.

City Manager Jeff Looney told councilors it would require at least one employee. 

“They have a paid staff person who organizes and does what needs to be done,” he said. “Quite frankly, I don’t think we have enough folks to fund a position like that.”

Chambers are typically funded by member dues and fundraisers. 

“We’d have to get 35 businesses to be able to support this,” Ort said. “We have businesses moving in (to the city). It’s something we need to keep in mind.”

“You’d hate to have a chamber and have it fall on its face,” Councilor Ron Munos added. 

“We’re on the cusp,” Smith said. “At some future point, yes, we want to revitalize this. I don’t know if we have enough businesses to support it at this time.” 

jfierro@thepicayune.com