If property taxes have to be paid, at least City Hall is planning to give residents a new way to make their payments.
Credit cards, either at the city's billing office or online, will be accepted later this year for payment of city property taxes.
"It's an easier way for them to make a payment because sometimes not everybody has the money to pay the taxes right away," said Councilman Lewis Rotella. "I've been waiting for this, and I think it's a great idea because everybody pays by credit cards now."
City Controller Maria Brown said residents should expect to pay an additional transaction fee, possibly 2 percent, which goes to the company handling credit card administration.
The City of Buffalo charges a $2 "convenience fee" for payment of city fees with a credit card, either in person or online.
Rotella said the cost will be clearly posted, and he expects many will still choose to take advantage of the convenience.
The new payment option has been planned for a couple of years, but there's still more work to be done before credit cards can be accepted.
The city's Law Department will first review proposed contracts with companies that want to handle the credit card transactions, Brown said, and then the lowest bidder will be presented to the City Council for approval.
The city's 2007 operating budget sets aside $19,000 for the billing department, estimated to cover the cost of several credit card machines for City Hall and a contract with a credit card administrator.
Brown said the city wants to offer the new payment option not because it is expected to bring in more revenue, but to create more convenience for residents.
"The city already takes credit cards at the golf course," Brown said. "We'll begin first in the billing department, and if it works well it would work in the city clerk's office [for other fees]."
If the city can sign agreements with the Niagara Falls City School District and the Niagara Falls Water Authority, school taxes and water bills would be eligible for credit card payment as well.
Mayor Vince Anello said the credit card payment is part of his administration's goal of modernizing city operations. He said the city's Web site is being updated as well and will feature new visitor- and resident-friendly features sometime this month.
In addition to the new credit card payment option this year, Anello said residents will be able to make a complaint or ask about an issue at www.niagarafallsusa.org and then keep tabs on the response with a registration number they will be given.