Coon Rapids prepay gas law won’t change
The Coon Rapids gas prepay ordinance, which went into effect Aug. 1, won’t be changed or repealed.
The Coon Rapids City Council, at a work session Tuesday night to assess the impact of the ordinance over its first three months, decided, by consensus, that it was too soon to consider changes.
The ordinance was recommended by Police Chief Brad Wise as a means to counter the increasing number of no-pays/drive offs in Coon Rapids, which was causing a spike in the city’s crime rate.
Since the ordinance became law, there have been no gas thefts reported in the city, according to Wise.
The ordinance requires prepayment, either by credit card at the pump or going inside and paying cash, before the pump is turned on.
But there is an exception to the prepay requirement. If business owners enter into a civil agreement with customers, including providing identifying information, then customers can activate a pump prior to payment.
The work session was requested by Councilmember Bruce Sanders, who was one of the 5-2 majority that voted for the ordinance earlier this year.
Gas station/convenience store owners/operators/managers were invited to speak, but only one, Jerry Charmoli, Highway 10 Mobil, was in favor of prepay. He called the ordinance a “blessing” because from the money saved from lack of no-pays, he had been able to hire a new employee.
But other like Rick Dehn of the Marathon at Northdale and Foley boulevards, Kevin Amundson of Neighbor Stop at Quince Street and Egret Boulevard, Brad Fogerty of Kwik Trip on Coon Rapids Boulevard and Jim Hannay of the Holiday at Coon Rapids and Foley boulevards presented figures that they described as “significant” losses not only in gasoline sales, but also in-store sales because of the ordinance, not to mention customer dissatisfaction.
The handful of residents that spoke were more or less evenly split for and against the ordinance.
Sanders offered a compromise that would set up a voluntary licensing system with random compliance checks whereby gas stations would put in place equipment and procedures to get all information necessary to provide proof of an intentional no pay where the driver could be held accountable through changes in state law.
If that was done, the owner/operator could get a license from the city and no longer need to have prepay, according to Sanders.
But if not, then prepay would stay in place, Sanders said.
Councilmember Jerry Koch, who opposed prepay from the beginning, continued to call for its repeal.
Peter Bodley is at