New Program Helps W.Va. Cities and Towns Manage Finances Online

The new program called LGov, referring to the assistance it gives cities and other local entities, allows users to pay bills on smartphone, gets money in the system faster and helps keep paperwork down.

by Paul J. Nyden, McClatchy News Service / July 21, 2014

State Treasurer John Perdue is trying to help cities and towns across the state manage with a new program to help them manage their finances more quickly and effectively.

“I love to reach out to the public and help them solve some of their problems. We are helping cities, towns and municipalities process their bills, such as water bills, and collect parking tickets,” Perdue said.

The new program is called “LGov,” referring to the assistance it gives cities, school lunch programs, fire departments, public service districts and other local entities.

“When people and cities do business online, they can pay their bills and get their own money a lot faster. This makes it a lot easier on towns and cities. We hope our program will develop into a lot more things than we are doing already,” Perdue said. “Technology is the answer for the future.

“You can pay bills on iPhones. This helps all of us and gets money in the system a lot faster. It keeps paperwork down.

“Towns and cities can see what is being collected. And we can deposit the money a lot faster in our Board of Treasury Investments, or BTI. It can be used for short-term investments by the state.”

The Treasurer’s office processed $3.4 million in electronic receipts for 11 different government bodies during the 2014 fiscal year, which ended June 30. It was an increase of slightly more than $1 million compared to the previous fiscal year.

The city of Fairmont was the largest user of the new program. During the 2014 fiscal year, it processed slightly more than $1 million in utility collections and another $126,000 from residents and local businesses to pay other fees, parking fines, business and occupation taxes and business license fees.

Typically, LGov users pay fees by using their credit or debit cards website maintained by the city or other organization.

Their payments are routed through the Treasurer’s secure and encrypted computer portals, then deposited into a Board of Treasury Investments account.

“We’re delighted to provide the service,” Treasurer Perdue said. “It’s at the heart of what I have always tried to do as a public servant — to bring state government services to the people.”

Fairmont officials are pleased.

Eileen Layman, Fairmont’s finance director, said, “The reason we began this program several years ago is we were looking for a mechanism to allow our customers to pay online, without accessing our computer system.

“It was for security reasons. We did not have a firewall set up at the time.”

The system has always worked well, Layman said. Fairmont has two Board of Treasury Investment accounts financed partly by revenue deposited directly to the State Treasury.

“The city of Fairmont joined the program relatively early on,” Layman said. “We were looking for a vehicle to offer our customers to pay their bills online and process credit card transactions through the internet.

“We didn’t want to open it up in our computer systems, because of all the security issues. This worked out very well for us. When customers visit our website, they can click and get transferred to the state’s website.

“Then they go to different pages, whether they want to pay a utility bill, a parking ticket, a business and occupation tax or get a business license.

“The program has worked very well for us. We reconcile deposits on a monthly basis and we can transfer funds from investment accounts into our operating accounts,” Layman said

During the last fiscal year, the $3.4 million deposited into State Treasury accounts included about 34,000 different transactions.

Other cities using the new LGov system include: Hurricane, $558,000; Claywood, $311,000; Dunbar, $255,000; Shinnston, $84,000; and Eleanor, $9,900.

Three additional clients are: the Lubeck Public Service District, $206,000; the Cabell County School Lunch Program, $165,000; and the Sissonville PSD, $142,000.

Any town or group interested in participating in the new LGov program can call the Treasurer’s office at: 304-558-5000. The Treasurer’s office will then send someone out to help set up the new process.

Perdue said, “We can invest for towns, cities and other municipalities. We can do short investments. It is a great opportunity, especially for the small towns and cities. We can help them with many different things.”

©2014 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)