Apache Junction updating pawn shop, auction ordinance

Scott Elliott owns Sharky’s Firearms, one of a handful of pawn shops in Apache Junction. His business could be negatively impacted if new fees were charged to prepare transactions, as was suggested in a proposed revision to the Apache Junction City Code. The city has thrown out that proposal and is working with local merchants and representatives from Pinal County to update the City Code as it pertains to auctions, pawnshops and second hand dealers. (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

Scott Elliott owns Sharky’s Firearms, a gun shop in Apache Junction. His business could be negatively impacted if new fees were charged to prepare transactions, as was suggested in a proposed revision to the Apache Junction City Code. The city has thrown out that proposal and is working with local merchants and representatives from Pinal County to update the City Code as it pertains to auctions, pawnshops and second hand dealers. Editor’s note: In the print edition of this story, the photo identification incorrectly referred to Sharky’s Firearms as a pawn shop. Sharky’s is a gun shop that buys, sells, trades and consigns guns. (Independent Newspapers/Wendy Miller)

 

A proposed revision to Apache Junction’s City Code about pawn shops has been scrapped and work is under way to create a new one.

During the Apache Junction City Council’s Oct. 19 work session, City Attorney Joel Stern told council members to disregard the copy of the proposed revisions to the City Code as they pertain to Auctions, Pawnshops and Second Hand Dealers (Vol. 1, Chapter 8, Businesses, Article 8-4) that was enclosed in their council packet for that evening as it was being rewritten.

In a memo included in the council packet, Apache Junction Police Chief Thomas Kelly said the police department and city attorney’s office have been working to revise the outdated ordinance due to current best practices and emerging new technology now available to both the business community and law enforcement that can help track down stolen goods.

Mr. Stern in an interview called the ordinance “way out of date.” He said this is the seventh draft produced in three years.

Chief Kelly told the council he and Mr. Stern had met earlier this month with representatives from the Pinal County attorney’s and sheriff’s offices, who had asked them to postpone further work on the revision until some legal issues could be resolved.

In an e-mailed response to questions, Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles said, “At this time we are not taking an official position on the city of Apache Junction’s revisions to their pawn shop regulations. The Pinal County Attorney’s Office did however provide suggestions to city officials regarding concerns into their proposed regulations revisions. One of the concerns includes the proposal of certain fees, such as licensing fees, and where they must be directed. PCAO asked officials to look into our concern that they comply with certain statutory requirements as to how those fees can be utilized and deposited. Once the proposal gets finalized, it is our understanding that everyone will get another chance to review it before it goes into effect.”

During a phone interview, Mr. Stern said work on a new revision would address the fees as well as input the city received while meeting with local pawn shop owners that afternoon. Mr. Voyles also attended the meeting.

The fees in question refer to a requirement for each pawnbroker, secondhand dealer and auctioneer to pay to the city a $3 fee for each transaction report that is required to be prepared, according to the document in the council packet.

The revision goes on to say: “each transaction report shall include no more than three items. For the purposes of this subsection, multiple non-serialized items of the same type that are delivered in a single transaction and that have no owner-assigned numbers, engravings, inscriptions, monograms or other unique identifying characteristics, may be considered one item on the report. Every transaction report entry over three will require a $1 surcharge per item listed. The $3 report fee and the $1 per item surcharge shall be due and payable to the city on the 30th day of April, July, October and January and shall be based on the number of reports submitted to the city during each quarter.”

A copy of the proposed revision and other council packet items can be viewed online.

Harlan Elliott, whose son Scott Elliott owns Sharky’s Firearms, 2015 W. Apache Trail in Apache Junction, is glad to see the fees addressed. He said during an interview most of the people who come to the shop to sell a gun are there because they have little money. He said he would hate to have to pass on a fee to a customer.

Mr. Elliott said he attended the Oct. 19 merchants meeting with the city. He said he was notified about the meeting in a letter dated July 2, from the Apache Junction Police Department.

Councilman Jeff Serdy in a phone interview expressed concerns about some of the holding times for pawned items proposed in the revision.

He said requiring pawn shops to put a 20-day hold on pawned items before they can be sold could put a burden on the business to store its inventory. He said the same could be said for the police and unclaimed items.

“If something is not claimed, it then goes to the police. If it is still not claimed, it goes back to the pawn shop. Why put the burden on the police and put them in the middle?” Councilman Serdy added.

Mr. Stern told the council he and the police department plan to meet with local merchants a few more times before drafting the next revision of the ordinance.

He said he did not know yet when those meetings would take place.

Leads Online

Chief Kelly at the work session also told the council the police department would like to participate in the Leads Online program. The program helps businesses that are typically required by law to report their transactions to law enforcement — such as secondhand dealers, pawnshops and gold buyers — by making reporting easier and more efficient, according to its website.

The program helps build a database of transactions from which law enforcement agencies can draw to find stolen merchandise and identify criminals.

The program can help businesses identify stolen goods and return the merchandise to its owners, according to the website.

It also can be used free by the public to record photos and serial numbers of their property to use in the event of loss of theft.

The cost for the police department to use the software would be about $5,000, Chief Kelly told the council.

That money could be recaptured in man hours saved by not having to decipher poorly written transaction receipts and by having electronic receipts and photos of pawned and sold items stored electronically, Detective Ariel Perez told the council.

Detective Perez told the council between September 2014 and now, police volunteers spent 110 hours manually entering information from about 3,000 pawn tickets for about 4,800 items that were pawned in Apache Junction.

The Apache Junction City Council will hold its next work session Monday, Nov. 2, and its next regular meeting Tuesday, Nov. 3. Meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 300 E. Superstition Blvd.

For more information, visit the city’s website at www.ajcity.net.

Reach staff writer Wendy Miller at wmiller@newszap.com

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