Representatives from the short-term lending industry told Muscle Shoals council members they hope to be a resource for information as the city mulls a possible business license moratorium on payday/title loan stores.
The council originally discussed the possible moratorium at its Nov. 5 meeting, but has not revisited the issue.
Curtis Pickens, a spokesman for the Birmingham-based Pickens Group, said because the action is possible, it is wise to meet with the council and become part of the conversation.
“We represent a number of these businesses, and we thought it would be prudent on our part to come up, introduce ourselves to you all and let you know we are very willing to work with you anyway we can from a zoning perspective,” Pickens said.
“We’d like to have some sort of input as you may mull through this.”
With Pickens were Meredith Broyles, manager of government relations for Check into Cash, and Erica Sechrist, director of government affairs for Advance America.
Before the meeting, Broyles and Sechrist said they were not attending the meeting as a reaction to the discussion. They characterized the visit as another chance to meet with government officials across the state.
Neither would comment on other cities they have visited or plan to visit.
Broyles and Sechrist said they were not authorized to speak further to reporters.
Birmingham, Midfield and Northport have passed moratoriums on short-term lending establishments. Tuscaloosa, Northport’s neighbor, considered a similar action but has backed off.
City Councilman Joe Pampinto told Pickens he is welcome to provide information supporting his stance to the council.
“We are just exploring the issue, and I’m sure you have a lot of written perspective on your side of this important issue,” Pampinto said. “We will read them, further study and educate ourselves. We don’t have a closed mind.”
Council President Jim Holland said the city seems to be inundated with payday loan businesses. There are 21 operating within the city limits, with approximately a dozen on Woodward Avenue between Second Street and Avalon Avenue.
“One of our issues is we see 15 check and go places,” Holland said. “One of the big things is how the public perceives our city. You can go to Sheffield or another city and only see two. We might have more than the average.”
Pickens said the points made by council members are similar to those made by other government officials, but expressed hope that the city would seek an alternative to a business license moratorium.
“There certainly will be palatable solutions to both city officials and business owners,” Pickens said.
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or jennifer.edwards@TimesDaily.com.