City council shouldn’t approve moratorium without clear plan of action

Published 8:17 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Selma City Council is faced with a big decision in the coming weeks. The council can either extend a payday loan store moratorium or let the moratorium expire and continue with business as usual.

An extension shouldn’t be taken lightly. Though payday loan stores provide a valuable service, a good number of customers also end up in cycles of debt. They are also businesses that, if operating within the law, contribute to the overall tax base. Admittedly Selma’s tax base isn’t in tip-top shape.

Council members who originally voted for the moratorium in January have voiced support for an extension and establishment of restrictions or rules.

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Before the council extends the moratorium for a period of months, it should consider whether currently operating payday or title loan stores would be affected.

If the council is truly committed to preventing operation of payday loan stores in Selma, it would let any business licenses expire, effectively preventing the stores from operating.

If the council is more concerned about an expansion of stores, then perhaps some business licenses would be awarded as part of exceptions to the moratorium.

Either way, the Selma City Council shouldn’t proceed blindly into an extended moratorium without a clear plan of action.

If rules and regulations have already been prepared, then the city should enforce them immediately.

If not, the council should spend the additional time analyzing the Alabama cities who have already taken action following a moratorium and talk to payday loan stores about the best way to reduce any debt owed by Selma residents.

City government should always be chiefly interested in the well-being of its residents.

If an extension helps improve the overall well-being of the working poor in Selma, then the council shouldn’t have to spend much time debating the issue.