Customer-friendly system paying off for DEQ customers

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 - 11:30am

An electronic payment system started early in the McCrory administration saves customers time and money when they pay state environmental fees.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality implemented an electronic payment option in 2013 to make it easier for municipalities, industries and other customers to pay permitting and other required fees.

Customers say the payment system is quicker, more efficient and more secure than the previous methods of hand-delivering or mailing fees to the state agency, said Joyce Davis-Freeman, DEQ’s financial systems manager responsible for launching the new system.

“It’s working well,” said Freeman. “It’s more cost effective for our agency and for the customers who are using it. What we’re finding is as people become more aware that this service is available from DEQ, the more they will choose to pay their fees and fines electronically.”

The move to an electronic payment system came about after the state environmental agency adopted a new customer service-focused mission under Governor McCrory. The e-Payment system has been rolled out in the divisions of Water Resources, Waste Management, and Energy, Mineral and Land Resources. Other state agencies, including the Department of Transportation, are also using this system under the guidance of the State Controller’s Office as a method of collecting fees.

Before instituting the e-Payment system, many customers paying permit fees would drive to Raleigh and hand deliver the fees to ensure they were delivered securely and on time.

“With the e-Payment system, customers enter their payment information online and receive an email almost instantaneously alerting them that their payment has been received and is being processed,” said Mary Johnson, accounting technician for the state’s solid waste section. “They are very excited about this new process.”  

Mary Johnson, an accounting technician for the state’s solid waste section, enters information from solid waste fees people have made using the PayPoint electronic payment system. She says customers like the electronic payment system because it’s quicker and more secure.   

Most of the agency’s programs with required fees now make the secure, third-party payment site option, known as PayPoint, available to customers. The e-Payment option is available for annual fees associated with underground storage tanks, water operator fees, fees for landfill permits and other solid waste facilities, wastewater and stormwater permits, dry cleaning permits, brownfields applications, municipal collection system permits, land application fees, solid waste and hazardous waste fees, mitigation services, and permits for animal operations. By the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year, the department had received about $1.9 million in permit fees and other fees paid using the PayPoint system.  

Johnson says the e-Payment system is growing in popularity, as evidenced by an increasing number of people choosing to send in their landfill permit fees and electronics recycling fees using PayPoint. In 2014, 14 people used PayPoint for the solid waste fees. That number increased to 44 payments last year, and is on course to reach 60 by the end of 2016, Johnson said.

The payment system allows customers to enter their permit number and proceed PayPoint to process the payment. At PayPoint, customers use their personal or business bank account number and routing number to complete the payment process. Fees must be paid in full. Several programs also allow people to pay by credit card, but a fee is included.