Columbia City Council members will not vote on a controversial payday-lending ordinance until Dec. 2, thanks to an absent council member and parliamentary procedure.
Council members Belinda Gergel, Tameika Isaac Devine and Sam Davis support the ordinance, which would ban payday lenders from operating within 3,000 feet - roughly half a mile - from another payday lender.
Council members Kirkman Finlay and E.W. Cromartie and Mayor Bob Coble want to delay the vote until the spring to see whether recent changes in state law reduce the number of payday lenders in the city, making the city's ordinance unnecessary.
Councilman Daniel Rickenmann supports the payday-lender regulation but is in Egypt on a trip sponsored by the American Council of Young Political Leaders - meaning a vote on the issue now would result in a tie.
A tie vote would have killed the issue, according to Robert's Rules of Order, which govern City Council procedures.
Because of that, Devine voted to delay the vote until December, knowing Rickenmann will be back to cast the deciding vote.
"I voted for the delay so it did not kill the ordinance," Devine said. "I plan to vote for the ordinance in December."
Supporters of the zoning change say payday lenders tend to cluster in poor areas of the city, which contributes to the problem of people receiving multiple payday loans that charge high interest rates.
But payday lenders say recent changes in state law will force many lenders to close. In Columbia, 11 payday lenders have shut down since the law change, according to Mary Riley, chief of staff and director of research for the state Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.
Statewide, 1,180 payday lenders were licensed before state law was changed. Now, the state has 761, Riley said.