Lexington County Treasurer: Banking change will save taxpayer dollars

Since mid-March, Lexington County taxpayers may have noticed something different when paying their vehicle tax bills. Rather than mailing their payments to Charlotte, as has been the practice for years, they are sending checks to a Lexington address.

It’s part of a new banking arrangement worked out by the treasurer’s office to save you money — a projected $200,000 a year — and keep the taxpayers’ business local.

Tax collections are now being handled at the TD Bank processing center off Corley Mill Road. Because the county receives more than 150,000 checks each year through the mail for tax payments, the new arrangement will mean significant economic benefits for Lexington County.

Other banking services will be provided by Wells Fargo, which will handle an average of $300 million in taxpayer funds annually — and at a lower cost than the previous banking contract.

Both banks were selected based on a number of criteria, including economic investment in Lexington County. Wells Fargo has nine branches in the county, and TD Bank has eight. They were selected through the competitive bidding process, and they offer low costs to taxpayers.

There’s a tendency within government to perpetuate the same practices and procedures, even when there’s a better way. And that was certainly the case this time: The county had used the same bank since the early 1970s. There were many well-meaning people within government who simply liked the way things were. There were roadblocks, red tape and bureaucratic inertia. In fact, the bank-selection process took more than three years to complete.

But hard work paid off. For the first time in more than 40 years, county government is switching banks. That’s good news — for the taxpayers, and for the local economy.

And in a larger context, let’s hope the banking change might serve as a metaphor for the county … and a county government increasingly willing to embrace common-sense reforms when they are in the taxpayers’ best interest.

JIM ECKSTROM

Lexington County Treasurer

 

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