COLUMBIA — Now that a six-month moratorium on new payday loan businesses has been imposed by the Columbia City Council, the next step is figuring out where to go from here.
The council passed an ordinance imposing the moratorium early Tuesday morning during a marathon meeting. The ordinance, which was introduced by Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade, passed on a 5-2 vote.
Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said the council now will ask for additional staff reports, specifically on how other communities are handling payday loan businesses.
"I think what the whole moratorium is really is just a period of time for information-gathering and some evaluation," Skala said, who favored the ordinance. "We need to determine whether it is justified for any additional regulation and what that might be."
Skala said he would begin the learning process by having a "chat" Thursday with Julie Townsend, Missouri director of Advance America. Townsend spoke at the council meeting on behalf of Advance America, which has two of Columbia's 21 payday loan businesses.
Wade told the council Tuesday that the moratorium should be a time to look at the options and see what is best for the community.
A report from the city Planning and Development Department said the council could consider zoning ordinances that would prevent payday loan businesses from clustering together, but that idea first would need to be reviewed by the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission.
Skala said that he hopes to start getting information from staff within the next month and that a work session probably will need to be set up. He added that the issue could be an item on the council's winter retreat agenda.
Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser and Second Ward Councilman Jason Thornhill opposed the moratorium. Nauser said she was uncomfortable about "investigating" a legal business that already is regulated by the state.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, who has sought additional state rules for the payday loan industry, plans a "district hearing" on the issue at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Columbia Public Library.