“It’s one thing to have an emergency. It’s another to continue to pay for the loan five years later,” Councilwoman Lashunda Scales told AL.com today.
Councilwoman Lashunda Scales proposes new rules to restrict payday lending and title pawn businesses. (The Birmingham News file)
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — After two years of a moratorium on new payday lending and title pawn businesses, the Birmingham City Council will consider new zoning rules as a long-term control on the growth of alternative financial institutions.
Proposed new zoning rules would impose a buffer between new payday lending businesses of 2,000 to 5,000 feet. The rules won’t impact existing businesses.
The ordinance is sponsored by Councilwoman Lashunda Scales, who has pushed for tougher rules regarding payday lenders and title pawn businesses for several years.
Industry advocates opposed the new rules just as strongly as they did the moratorium.
“The objective is to finally provide a resolution that is the best approach to stop the growth of payday lending which has adversely impacted, not only communities, but families who struggle to make ends meet,” Scales told AL.com.
Scales called the provision a matter of both economic development and consumer protection.
Money lending establishments near or on Center Point Parkway. From I-59 to the city limits of Center Point in Birmingham. (The Birmingham News FILE / Hal Yeager)
She also sponsored and lobbied for the moratorium on new payday loans and title pawn businesses two years ago. The provision has been extended several times since then.
She maintains that Birmingham remains inundated with the subprime businesses that she says stifle positive commercial development.
The original moratorium included an amendment stating that that city’s economic development division and its planning and zoning officials would work during the moratorium period on ways to curb ”clustering” once the moratorium was lifted.
Scales said the proposed zoning ordinance follows the intent of the earlier provisions.
Payday lending industry officials, and their trade group, Borrow Smart, have consistently defended their business, saying they provide a necessary service that is unfairly characterized.
“Our position has never changed,” Borrow Smart President Max Wood said this afternoon. “Our position is, it’s anti-consumer and it’s anti-small business.”
Scales said the payday lending industry locks residents into a cycle of debt.
On the contrary, Wood cited a new survey this week that showed most payday loan customers are pleased with their experience. Further, he said the industry is already under state and federal regulation.
A public hearing is set before Tuesday’s vote. Wood and industry supporters are also expected to attend.
“That’s just absolutely ridiculous,” Wood said. “There are no restrictions on auto dealers. There are no restrictions on drugstores. There are no restrictions on fast food restaurants. It’s just picking winners and losers.”
Scales said the hearing is an opportunity for residents to express their views on the proposed new rules.
“The public hearing is to get input regarding payday lending institutions and their impact on the surrounding communities,” she said. “While services are needed, we are attempting to partner with other agencies that could provide long-term solutions to short-term problems by reducing the interest rates, making the loans more affordable to pay and providing a balanced approach. It’s one thing to have an emergency. It’s another to continue to pay for the loan five years later.”
Birmingham’s ordinance was modeled after one passed in Midfield that limits the number of payday lending institutions to the current 12.
Midfield’s law was challenged but was upheld in court.
In addition, Center Point also has a longstanding moratorium on payday lending and title loan businesses.
Birmingham’s moratorium also generated national interest. The new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last year chose Birmingham to hold its first field hearing on payday lending.
Tougher new rules under consideration for Birmingham payday …
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Loans Till Payday – Cash Till Payday Loans | Back Burner
Council hears the Mayor’s payday lending ordinance
Dec 6th, 2013by Charles Kuffner.
Reaction was mixed, though it appears likely there is enough support to pass.
The proposed ordinance would limit payday loans to 20 percent of a borrower’s gross monthly income and auto title loans to 3 percent of the borrower’s gross annual income or 70 percent of the car’s value, whichever is less. Single-payment payday loans could be refinanced no more than three times, while multiple-installment loans could include no more than four payments. The principal owed would need to drop by at least 25 percent with each installment or refinancing.
Skeptics on council said the proposal could drive payday lenders outside city limits, hurting borrowers’ access to credit. Councilwoman Melissa Noriega also cautioned against viewing all such lending as nefarious, saying she knows a woman who takes out a title loan each year to buy school supplies.
“It’s very important that we not make life more difficult for poor families while we assume that we’re helping them,” she said. “I’m not saying we’re doing that; I just think that’s one of the key concerns here.”
Noriega’s concerns about what would replace payday lenders were echoed by Councilman Ed Gonzalez, who said he worried about constituents visiting a loan shark at the local cantina, and Councilman Jerry Davis, who said he did not want residents turning to “Good Times” character Lenny, a neighborhood hustler, for credit.
“I don’t know that Lenny the loan shark is much worse than the worst of the payday lenders,” Parker replied.
City Attorney David Feldman added that, while many payday lenders fled Dallas when it adopted its restrictions, the same has not been true in San Antonio.
One thing I want to point out: If you go back and review the Mayor’s proposal, you will note that nowhere in there does it put a limit on the interest rate that these lenders can charge. That means they will still be free to impose a 612% APR on their loans, while claiming they’re just charging 20% and doing their best to obfuscate what it all means. Seriously, go read this account by Forrest Wilder of taking out a “payday loan” that turned out to be a new mutation on the form that was aimed at slipping through the city of Austin’s regulations. That’s what we’re dealing with here. I understand Council’s concerns, but for the most part I don’t share them. I don’t see what’s being proposed here as needless or particularly burdensome. The item will be on Council’s agenda for December 11, which means it will likely be voted on the following week after getting tagged. Texpatriate and Stace have more.
Endorsement watch: Planned Parenthood gets an early startMore on the new Council mapDistrict H redistricting town hall meeting
Council hears the Mayor's payday lending ordinance – Off the Kuff
EBENSBURG – With the security of a $5 million loan and long-term debt refinancing, Cambria County commissioners said they believe they may have solved the county’s cash-flow problem.
President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder announced at the commissioners’ Thursday morning meeting that the county has reached an agreement with First National Bank for a $5 million loan to pay off the remaining half of the county’s yearly $10 million tax anticipation note loan, which will be repaid over the next eight years.
The deal also includes reducing the $10 million loan to $5 million from now on, and it restructures the county’s $19 million debt, lowering the interest rate and shortening payments from 17 to 15 years.
Commissioner Mark Wissinger said the agreement was reached after months of meetings and financial exploration.
“This, to me, looks like the best avenue possible,” he said.
But not everyone agrees.
Controller Ed Cernic Jr. said the loan is nothing more than taking out long-term debt to pay off short-term debt.
“All we’re doing is kicking the can down the road,” Cernic said.
He also took issue with a $25,000 origination fee paid to First National as part of the loan agreement and the loan’s accompanying interest rate of more than 4 percent. He compared it to the $10 million tax anticipation note loan rate of 1.5 percent.
“I understand [the loan] wasn’t shopped around for any competitive rates,” he said.
Lengenfelder disagreed, saying it was the best deal the county could get and that the loan and debt refinancing will save the county $1.2 million over the next 15 years through reduced interest and fee payments.
The debt refinancing will save about $264,000 over the first seven to eight years, said Joel Valentine, a CPA with Wessel & Co., the county’s accounting firm.
“It’s meeting the county’s needs without raising taxes and not kicking the can down the road,” Lengenfelder said, looking to Cernic.
“This is a great answer for some of the problems the controller’s office has asked to be solved,” he added.
Cernic said the plan might have had more merit if the county wasn’t on the hook for an additional $8 million debt, not including the $5 million tax anticipation note, and only $3 million in cash to pay for everything.
About $4.4 million has been borrowed from county agencies, and there is $3.4 million owed in unpaid bills.
Several agencies are over budget for this year, he said – between $120,000 and $150,000 for food alone at the Cambria County Prison, for example – and it’s unfair for the county to keep squeezing money out of them to pay its bills.
“We’re trying to find budget monies to transfer, and [they're] just not there,” he said.
Cernic said the real problem with the agreement is that it won’t solve continual budget shortfalls, which he attributed to the commissioners’ mishandling of the budget. The county always has been unable to pay its tax anticipation note without needing more loans, he said.
Lengenfelder acknowledged that the bank deal will not solve the county’s ongoing budget problems, but Chief Clerk Steve Ettien said Cernic might be looking at Cambria’s finances the wrong way.
Close to $2 million of the $3.4 million in unpaid bills is for the county’s health care fund, which will be paid next year. He also said the county has been overpaying into the fund by about $80,000 each month and will be reducing its payments next year.
Also, he said, about $1 million of a $2 million insurance bill payment will be coming back to the county, and other bills will be rolled over until next year, which is common procedure for every county.
The county’s budget isn’t what he would call healthy, Ettien said, but it is getting better.
“You could add it in there and you could make it look much worse than it is. … I could twist numbers all day,” he said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.
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Cambria County takes out $5M loan
Retail cash inflows to bank loan mutual funds and exchange-traded funds totaled just $383 million for the week ended Dec. 4, according to Lipper, a division of Thomson Reuters Thomson Reuters. That is the smallest inflow since the first week of the year.
That is less than half of last week’s $823 million figure and well of the four-week trailing average of $690 million, which drops this week from $739 million prior. Still, the net inflow streak clicks to 77 weeks for a total total infusion of $58.1 billion over that span. The last net outflow was recorded in June 2012.
This week’s inflow included 7% from ETFs, down from a 14% participation last week.
Year-to-date inflows total $50.6 billion, of which 10% is tied to ETFs. In the comparable year-ago period, inflows were $7.7 billion, 17% of which was tied to ETFs.
Total assets of the weekly reporter sample were $98.7 billion at the end of the latest observation period, and the change due to market conditions was approximately positive $269 million. Total assets are up $56.7 billion in the year to date, an expansion of 135% from $42 billion at the close of 2012.
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Cash To Leveraged Loan Funds Eases Though Win Streak Hits 77 Weeks
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In an emergency, when you have no other options to get the cash you need, then maybe — maybe — taking a cash advance from your credit card makes sense.
That’s the consensus of credit counselors and consumer advocates, who say that withdrawing cash from your credit card is usually an unwise idea because of the high fees and interest rates. A November 2013 survey by CreditCards.com of 100 top cards found that the median annual interest rate for cash advances is about 24 percent, or about 6 points higher than the interest rate on purchases.
“It’s a bad way to get cash,” says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities with Consumer Action, a consumer advocacy group. “All in all, we don’t really see a lot of reason for it.”
Still, most consumer groups advocate becoming informed about how cash advances work, rather than seeking to outlaw them.
The overwhelming majority of cardholders have little use for cash advances. According to an October 2013 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, just 3.1 percent of active credit card accounts took cash advances in a three-month period at the end of 2012.
There are times when a cash advance can make sense: When you have no other option to pay for something you need, and that merchant does not accept credit cards for purchases.
We can all probably envision rare but plausible scenarios: Maybe your wife goes into labor and needs you to meet her at the hospital, but your car has broken down, you’re out of cash and the taxi you hailed doesn’t take credit cards but is willing to swing you by a bank (although the one with your money is on the other side of town).
Aside from emergencies, though, many people use cash advances in ways they shouldn’t.
For instance, casinos are becoming more sophisticated in the ways they accept credit cards for cash advances, including, in some cases, enabling gamblers to swipe cards directly on slot machines. Gambling with money you don’t have is a warning sign of a gambling addiction, says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.
“Many more folks are using credit cards,” he says. “The easier and quicker you can access these various accounts on the gaming floor, there is risk there.”
David Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies, says credit counselors often see people who use cash advances to obtain cash for their daily needs, such as giving cash to their kids to buy something at school. A lot of people use credit card cash advances as a form of payday loan, withdrawing a few hundred dollars to make ends meet until they receive their paycheck.
“We try to tell our clients not to use those cash advances; however, many of them do,” he says. “They get to be a habit.”
Jones offers the following advice on cash advances:
Use them only in true emergencies. For instance, Jones had one client who took a cash advance to pay a speeding ticket in a town that did not accept credit cards. “That seems to make a little bit of sense,” he says. Make sure you actually need cash. If you can charge an item on a credit card instead of using cash from a cash advance, your interest rates will probably be lower. Repay cash advances as soon as possible. Unlike using a credit card for purchases, withdrawing cash begins accruing interest immediately. There’s no grace period. Try to pay it off before your next statement arrives. Read the fine print. Understand the interest rate and fees associated with taking a cash advance. The CreditCards.com survey found that fees are typically 3 percent to 5 percent of the amount withdrawn, with a usual minimum of $10. Also, be aware that the “convenience checks” that come in your credit card statement usually count as cash advances. Know your withdrawal limits, which are often lower than your usual limit for purchases. Should you withdraw too much, you’ll be hit with yet another fee. Consider alternatives. Instead of taking a cash advance, can you sell some items you own to raise cash, such as unused furniture? Can you hold a yard sale? Take a part-time job? Borrow money from a family member? Do some yard work for a neighbor? But don’t dip into your 401(k) retirement account and don’t go to a payday lender, whose rates are likely to be worse than those on a cash advance.
One of the best things people can do to avoid taking a cash advance is to plan — have emergency reserves, and make sure to live within their means.
“People need to be careful how they manage their money,” Jones says. “It makes a big difference.”
A quick guide to credit card cash advances: No! Don’t!How to use the grace period to avoid paying interest5 things people fail to budget forLoansFinancecredit card
A quick guide to credit card cash advances: No! Don't!
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Entravision Communications Corporation (EVC) announced today that its Board of Directors has approved the initiation of a quarterly cash dividend to shareholders and has declared an initial quarterly cash dividend of $0.025 per share of the Company’s Class A, Class B and Class U common stock, in an aggregate amount of approximately $2.2 million. The initial quarterly dividend will be payable on December 30, 2013 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on December 16, 2013, and the common stock will trade ex-dividend on December 12, 2013. The Company currently anticipates that future cash dividends will be paid on a quarterly basis. Any decision to pay future cash dividends will be subject to further approval by the Board.
The Company’s Board of Directors has also declared a special one-time cash dividend of $0.10 per share to shareholders of the company’s Class A, Class B and Class U common stock, in an aggregate amount of approximately $8.8 million. The special one-time dividend will be payable on December 30, 2013 to shareholders of record as of the close of business on December 16, 2013, and the common stock will trade ex-dividend on December 12, 2013.
In addition, the Company announced its intention to prepay $10 million of term loans under the Company’s senior secured term loan credit facility entered into on May 31, 2013. The Company currently anticipates funding this prepayment by using cash on hand. Following the prepayment, approximately $364 million will remain outstanding under the Company’s term loan credit facility.
“Our strong financial performance and balance sheet offers us the opportunity to return value directly to our shareholders through the first quarterly dividend in Entravision’s history,” said Walter F. Ulloa, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of Entravision. “We are pleased to deliver additional returns through the one-time special dividend as well as further reduce our debt and strengthen our balance sheet. Our liquidity position remains solid and we are focused on continuing to execute our growth strategy and generate strong operating results.”
About Entravision Communications Corporation
Entravision Communications Corporation is a diversified Spanish-language media company utilizing a combination of television, radio and digital operations to reach Latino consumers across the United States, as well as the border markets of Mexico. Entravision is the largest affiliate group of both the top-ranked Univision television network and Univision’s UniMas network, with television stations in 19 of the nation’s top 50 Latino markets. The company owns and/or operates 56 primary television stations and also operates one of the nation’s largest groups of primarily Spanish-language radio stations, consisting of 49 owned and operated radio stations. Additionally, Entravision has a variety of cross-platform digital content and sales offerings designed to capitalize on the company’s leadership position within the Latino broadcasting community. Entravision shares of Class A Common Stock are traded on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol: EVC.
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Entravision Communications Corporation Initiates Quarterly Cash Dividend
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