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Salt Lake County recorder adds credit and debit cards to payment options

Adam Gardiner: ‘We got with the 1990s and are now accepting credit cards.’<br>

(Michael Mangum | Special to the Tribune) Adam Gardiner speaks during the recorder election at the county republican Central Committee Meeting at Jordan High School in Sandy, UT on Thursday, August 17, 2017. Gardiner was elected Salt Lake county recorder.

The Salt Lake County recorder’s office entered the modern age this week — customers can now use credit and debit cards to pay a bill for a service.

Until Monday, patrons of the office could only write a check for filing any of the hundreds of types of records that must be filed with the county, Recorder Adam Gardiner said. Those documents include deeds, easements, development plat maps and more.

A 2016 audit of the recorder’s office recommended adding the electronic payments to better accommodate customers.

An office response to the suggestion from the then-Recorder Gary Ott and Chief Deputy Julie Dole said state law prohibited agencies from passing bank processing fees onto consumers and that finding a way to keep charges for service and credit card fees was so cumbersome that it would have to be handled by a third party.

Ott died in October from causes related to a neurological disease. As his health declined, he was at the center of a scandal over the way Dole and Ott’s assistant and former girlfriend Karmen Sanone ran the office while covering for their boss.

A former state representative, Gardiner, was appointed to replace Ott and said modernizing the payment options of the office were among his campaign promises.

The office took about four months to add the card options, Gardiner said; it commissioned a survey of 800 title-industry customers and others who use the office’s online programs.

Seventy percent of respondents welcomed the change, which is already making transactions easier for staffers and patrons.

And no one has groused about paying the 3 percent bank fee.

“Our average transaction amount in the office is about $17,” he said. “So people are going to pay — what is it, 30 cents? — to use a credit card. That’s what we’ve found.”