HOW MUCH does Philadelphia want your money? Not enough to make it easy to pay for city services, apparently.
"It's Our Money," a partnership between the Daily News and WHYY that's funded by the William Penn Foundation, has found that, two years after Mayor Nutter took office promising to make city government more customer- friendly, many city departments still don't accept credit cards for in-person transactions, and two satellite payment facilities in North Philly and the Northeast don't accept cash.
What's more, because every department is responsible for managing its own payment-collection system, figuring out how to pay for services can be extremely confusing.
The good news is that the Nutter administration is focusing on revamping the city's Web site to streamline online transactions.
This is an advantage of both convenience — in an increasingly cash-free society, a lot of people are accustomed to paying for things with a credit or debit card — and economics. Poorer Philadelphians without bank accounts incur fees if they're forced to pay in anything but cash.
Enter the labyrinth
"It's Our Money" called a cross-section of city departments to find out what forms of payment they accept for crucial services, from paying taxes and your gas bill to posting bail (we also called a couple of state departments and the First Judicial District, because they provide services Philadelphians use frequently, though it should be noted that the city can't control their practices).
Our findings are in the chart below.
A few agencies, such as the Department of Health and the Philadelphia Gas Works, accept all possible forms of payment. But some don't. Here are some of the limitations, and the explanations we got when we asked the departments why: