Ordinance for pawnshops still in progress

Published 7:27 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bainbridge city manager Chris Hobby and the city council continue to work on fine-tuning the proposed pawnshop ordinance. The ordinance was originally proposed at the council’s May meeting and public hearing attended my multiple pawnshop owners was held in June.

As currently written, the ordinance would require all pawnbrokers within the city limits to keep electronic records of the transactions made in the store.

Those records would have to include a description of the person, including name and driver’s license number, a description of the item, the price paid, the receipt number, the maturity date of the transaction if it is a pawn and the signature of the customer.

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It will also require any person who wishes to operate a pawnshop to register with the city.

The city is currently working to rewrite the ordinance to address the complaints of the pawnshop owners.

“I want to make sure we strike a very good balance and don’t do anything that creates the appearance or the impression that its punitive to the pawnshop owners because that’s never been the intention,” Hobby said.

A major issue the pawnshop owners had with the proposed ordinance was the issue of clients’ privacy.

“They don’t have any problem at all with providing us with the items that are pawned, but the identification of their customers is a big issue,” Hobby said. “There’s a way I think that we can get the description of the items that are pawned without getting the identifying information of the customer and then if that item turned out to have been stolen, perhaps getting the customer information after the fact.”

There has also been talk of which businesses will be affected by the ordinance, and if it will strictly govern pawnshops or all businesses that buy and sell items.

“We’ve got to figure out where that line needs to be drawn,” Hobby said. “I think it’s going to include more than the pawnshops. I think it has to. I think that points that have been made that are legitimate, and you can’t just narrow in on one part of this economy. You’ve got to look more broad.”

Hobby said that part of the plan while rewriting the ordinance is to look at other cities throughout the state and see how they have written their ordinances and which businesses are included.

According to Hobby, the current plan is to have an updated ordinance prepared by the council’s August meeting on August 2.

“I’m going to wait and not bring anything until I’m confortable that we’ve got everybody at least reasonably happy,” Hobby said. “We could have rushed something through tonight, but I wasn’t ready.”

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