County discusses kiosk, app for tax, tag payments

Published 2:55 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marengo County residents may soon be able to pay property taxes or renew their car tags with a simple tap on their smartphones.

On Tuesday, the Marengo County Commission heard from Probate Judge Laurie Hall, Revenue Commissioner Sharon Barkley and Will Yarbrough with County Apps, discussing the possibility of the county buying into a new service that would allow citizens to pay property taxes or renew their vehicle tags on their smartphones or at a kiosk.

“A lot of people complain about having to come to Linden to renew their tags or having to stand in line to do it,” Hall said. “This system would allow people to use their phones or go to a kiosk that we could place in Demopolis and the south end of the county to handle their business.”

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Commission Chairman Freddie Armstead said he’s concerned about the cost, which would be $8,250 up front, then $678 per month.

“We’re talking about money the county will have to pay out of pocket,” he said. “Do we really need this system?”

Currently, citizens can go online to pay property taxes and renew their tags, but Hall said only 2.5 percent of citizens use this service. She said she believes placing user-friendly kiosks in Demopolis and Dixons Mills would allow anyone who is able to use a bank ATM to handle their business away from the courthouse.

Yarbrough, who was representing County Apps, a company based in Birmingham, said 65 percent of people in Alabama use smartphones, and this system expands the reach of the courthouse.

“We built our system based on the feedback from things that are already out there,” he said. “We’re trying to be a partner with the counties as well as the citizens.”

The commissioners voted to table the discussion until the May meeting to give themselves more time to research and find out more about the product.

In other business, the commission took the following action:

u Recognized A.L. Johnson’s boys basketball team with a resolution.

The commissioners congratulated ALJ head coach Johnney Ford on a successful season in which he led the Eagles to the Class 1A Final Four in Birmingham.

“Thank you for recognizing us,” Ford said. “When we started making our run, everybody was asking where Thomaston is, and by the time we left, they knew.”

•Approved the grand jury report

•Approved the hire of James Courtney as a jailor at the Marengo County Detention Center

•Approved county levies for alcohol licensing. The levies remain unchanged from the previous year.

•Approved an EMA and Tobacco Tax CD rate of .75 percent from Sweet Water State Bank

•Approved the annual Summer Feeding Program

Marengo County Economic Development Authority Director Brenda Tuck also announced that she has been named the co-chair of the Skills Training/Workforce Development Committee of the Black Belt Commission.