City tweaks fees due to penny phase-out
Mayor's inquiry catches administration off-guard
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 02, 2013 06:00 am
Mayor Nolan Crouse was perusing the menu at the Akinsdale Arena concession stand recently when he started thinking about pennies.
On Monday the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing the one-cent coin to banks throughout the country. While pennies will still remain legal currency, many businesses will no longer be accepting or dispensing them.
But when Crouse asked administration on Monday what the city was doing about the penny, he got the feeling he caught staff unprepared.
“I think people maybe jumped to the conclusion it’s just pennies,” said Crouse. “It’s simple. It’s simple until the person at the front desk has to administer a fee. Perhaps it was just viewed as being petty but for my part it’s attention to detail. I’m expecting there would be an announcement.”
On Thursday, chief financial officer Anita Ho said the city would follow the guidelines issued by the Government of Canada. Specifically, the city will still accept payments of one-cent increments in electronic transactions, such as debit card, credit card or electronic transfer, but any cash transactions will now be rounded to the nearest nickel.
“Cash transactions will be rounded to the nearest five-cent increment. Everything else will be the same,” Ho said.
It has been more than a year since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty proposed stopping production of the penny to save the federal government money. The one-cent coins cost 1.6 cents each to produce. The move saves the government approximately $11 million.
Crouse said he conducted a little research before Monday’s meeting and found that Red Deer and Lloydminster had changed their policies as well.
“The penny is gone,” he said. “Let’s round it off to the nickel and get on with it.”
It’s not just utility bills and garbage tags the city has to worry about when it comes to cash transactions. The concessions at Akinsdale Arena and Fountain Park Recreation Centre, as well as the Starbucks at Servus Credit Union Place, are all city-operated, so their prices need to be adjusted. So too do different fees and charges issued by the city for everything from equipment rental at Servus Place to different kinds of permits and municipal services.
While the amount customers pay in cash will change, the actual charge won’t. For those paying in cash, they will pay two-cents more or two-cents less than the actual product costs. Crouse expects those charges will be changed during next year’s budget cycle.