Going forward, Smithfield utility customers who pay their monthly bill online will cough up an extra $3 for the privilege of doing so.
Smithfield has been accepting online payments for a couple of years, but its third-party vendor had been absorbing the fee of $2.45 per transaction. Not anymore.
The vendor has since been acquired by another company whose structure, under federal law, allows it to collect the transaction fee, which the new company plans to pass along to Smithfield. The town, in turn, will pass the fee along to its customers.
The town looked at what other companies charge, but its current vendor was the cheapest, said Greg Siler, Smithfield’s finance chief.
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Also this past week, the council:
▪ Banned U-turns from Outlet Center Drive onto the street that runs behind CiCi’s Pizza, Ruby Tuesday and Zaxby’s.
Town Manager Michael Scott said Smithfield police had recorded 21 accidents there since the start of 2015. Scott said he hoped the U-turn ban, along with the erection of bollards – short, vertical posts meant to obstruct traffic – would remedy the problem.
“We are seeing a significant rise in traffic accidents at this intersection,” Scott told the council.
“It’s an unusual intersection,” he said. Referring to the U-turn ban and bollards, he added, “Whether we’re making a difference or not, I’m not sure.”
Councilman Perry Harris voted for the U-turn ban and bollards but doubted their effectiveness, saying they “probably won’t make a whole lot of difference” because “of the way people drive” there.
▪ Gave the Junior Women’s League of Smithfield permission to hold its “Touch a Truck” event Nov. 12 in the 200 block of South Third Street.
▪ Gave the Venomous Ryderz Motorcycle Club permission to hold its Community Day and Book Bag Drive Aug. 13 in Smith-Collins Park.
▪ Renewed a two-year, $35,000 contract with Lane Lawn Care for town rights-of-way, Interstate 95 exits and the water plant.
▪ Agreed to pay Holhouser Economic Development Consulting $16,500 to begin implementing the town’s economic-development plan.
▪ Agreed to purchase of a second $200,000 sludge press for the water-treatment plant.
▪ Agreed to launch a $145,000 way-finding system that will include signs at entrances to town and signs pointing toward destinations like the Ava Gardner Museum, Johnston Community College and Neuse Little Theatre.
Money for the signs will come from the town’s tax on hotel stays.
▪ The town manager said lights in downtown trees should be lit in time for the town’s Christmas parade.
▪ Wilson Street has reopened after pavement and sewer repairs.
▪ Four candidates remain in the search for Smithfield’s next police chief.
▪ The Johnston County Heritage Center wants to know if Smithfield can find a home for one of the three remaining Freeman School houses in the United States. The former school, now a house, is at 308 N. Fourth St. The lot has a new owner who wants the land but not the house.
▪ Smithfield has bought the burned-out house at 116 S. Fifth St., which is next to the town’s police station. The town is seeking bids to demolish what’s left of the house.
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett