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City changes ordinance on tattoo shops

The Wadena City Council voted 3-2 to modify the municipal tattoo ordinance to comply with the state of Minnesota licensing statute which went into effect on Jan. 1, and also to retain the new requirement to get a state license.

Council member Don Niles, council member Kay Browne and Mayor Wayne Wolden voted in favor of the motion, while council member Jeanette Baymler and council member Toby Pierce voted nay.

In the December city council meeting, city administrator Brad Swenson had said that the state was imposing astronomical fees on tattoo businesses.

During the January meeting, Swenson said, "The state has told us that we could be the licensing authority if we so desired, but we'd have to change our ordinance to be as stringent or more stringent as the state statute. We would set the fee."

City attorney Jeff Pederson told the council they had three options: 1) Repeal the city ordinance and allow the state to take over, 2) Change the city ordinance to be as stringent or more stringent than the state ordinance in order to take over as the sole licensing authority in Wadena, or 3) Amend the city ordinance, leave health issues to the state and require tattoo shops to get licensing from both the city and the state.

The council's decision went with Option 3.

An earlier motion by Pierce to go with Option 2 in order to impose less fees was defeated, with Pierce and Baymler voting in favor and Wolden, Browne and Niles voting nay.

"Are we trying to discourage or encourage business in Wadena?" Pierce said. He said the tattoo shop on U.S. Highway 71 was getting very popular.

Browne said that Pierce's motion might be a subsidy for a private business.

Pederson said that since the Jan. 1 deadline was already passed, Wadena's tattoo business would already have had to pay the fee.

"He won't get a reduced fee for three more years," Swenson said.

Nico Rodriguez at Tattoos by Frank confirmed that they had already gone through the steps to get the state license as well as the municipal license and that business was running as usual.

During the time of the meeting, council members were not sure whether Tattoos by Frank had been able to pay the fee to continue operating.

The local license fee was $30 plus a $30 investigation fee, while the new state fee is $1,000 for a license for three years plus $100 per operator for two years, Swenson said.

The city's ordinance has a criminal misdemeanor charge built into it for operating without a license, while the state statute does not, Pederson said.

The council also agreed that retaining a local licensing requirement as well as the new state requirement would allow them to keep track of who is working in Wadena.

Niles said: "We talked about protecting local businesses. And to me if we don't have the ordinance we're at risk for transient state-licensed operators."