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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Lancaster County Treasurer's Office wants residents to pay their property taxes and vehicle registrations online, which officials say is cheaper for the county than processing checks.

The treasurer's office recently announced a partnership with the National Association of County Officials and Visa Inc. on a pilot project to deter residents from writing checks to government agencies, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Most county residents prefer paying by check, but the method is expensive for the treasurer's office. Paying property taxes by check in the mail costs the county more than $3 per transaction, while processing vehicle registration payments by mail can add up to almost $6 per transaction.

Chief Deputy Treasurer Candace Meredith said 60 percent of property tax payments and 41 percent of vehicle registration payments are made by check.

As part of the pilot project, the county will start encouraging residents to switch to online payments in December, when property tax statements are mailed, according to Meredith.

The county also will conduct surveys next year about the online payment process and look into how to reduce credit card and online transaction fees.

Credit card payments cost the county about 52 cents for a vehicle registration payment and 40 cents for a property tax payment. But residents have to pay a 2.35 percent fee for credit card transactions and are charged $2 to use debit cards and $1 for e-checks.

Most people don't want to pay upfront fees and prefer to write a check, Meredith said.

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"We want to help citizens and create cost-effective solutions for the county," Meredith said.

Lancaster County was chosen from 700 counties nationwide that expressed interest in the pilot project, according to Meredith. Once complete, the county will share its findings across the country.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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