Gina Mace

CUYAHOGA FALLS: It wasn’t enough for the City Council to block title loan companies from locating in Cuyahoga Falls with legislation passed in April.

Now the council wants the Ohio legislature to close loopholes on predatory lenders, and put auto title loan companies in the same category.

The City Council on Tuesday passed a resolution asking state legislators to treat title loans the same as other short-term loans under consumer protection laws. The resolution also urges the attorney general to enforce the laws.

“The laws need to be amended and enforced to restrict the amount of loan fees and interest rates,” Councilman Victor Pallotta said.

Legislation passed in 2008 limits percentage rates and terms that payday lenders can offer. Auto title lenders — who use the vehicle’s title as collateral for the loan — say they are not payday lenders and operate under two other state laws: the Small Loan Act and Mortgage Loan Act.

Pallotta said he isn’t anti-business.

“Council and the administration have embraced and encouraged new business,” he said. “There are some entities that have business practices that are detrimental to some of our citizens’ financial welfare, the integrity of our established business districts and subsequently compromise our property values. These we strongly oppose.”

April’s ordinance was passed four months after LoanMax withdrew an appeal to the zoning commission, which turned down an application for a variance to locate on State Road.

Pallotta pushed for the legislation and the resolution after investigating the practices affecting low-income families by high-interest, short-term loans.

The rest of the City Council and the administration co-sponsored the resolution.

“The people who have suffered have no lobbyist or political action committee or influence or a voice in these affairs,” Pallotta said. “With compassion, each member of this council and each member of the administration, representing 50,000 voices, say, ‘We will not stand here silently and watch our less-fortunate residents be exposed to such usury or let our commercial business districts and our property values be compromised.’?”

Jeff Wilhite, executive director of Family Promise of Summit County, has led an area effort to bring auto title lenders under laws that cover what is called “payday lending.”

The Ohio Consumer Lenders Association has said it opposes caps or any legislation limiting their businesses.

Gina Mace can be reached at ginamace2@gmail.com.