Where Idaho lawmakers have failed to reign in payday loan businesses, Caldwell could succeed.
Mayor Garret Nancolas wants to explore placing limits on the companies that can end up charging high interest rates for quick cash loans. City Senior Planner Anne Marie Skinner will come up with proposed zoning changes meant to discourage the companies from setting up in Caldwell. The changes would have to be approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.
“Oftentimes these title loan places prey on the people who can least afford to get caught in a trap like that,” Nancolas said.
“They get into a cycle where they can never get out (of debt).”
A Republican senator from Twin Falls told the Times-News interest rates on payday loans can inflate to as high as 500 percent. He wanted to pass legislation this year to cap payday loan interest rates at 36 percent but has put the bill on hold.
A typical payday loan is a two-week loan of $300, with a fee of $15 to $18 per each $100 borrowed.
The industry defends itself as offering help to people who need loans to pay bills they can repay in a few days.
Ken Scholz of Caldwell is a commercial real estate appraiser and chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He said he approached Nancolas about the issue.
“These people are just being taken advantage of,” Scholz said about payday and title loan company customers. “I couldn’t believe that someone could charge that much interest.”
Caldwell could change its land use policies regarding payday loan businesses to discourage them from opening. The changes would have no impact on existing businesses, Skinner said. They could include limiting the loan companies to service commercial or light industrial zones.
Caldwell now has about seven payday loan businesses, many of them on Caldwell Boulevard and Blaine Street.