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Apple Valley city officials are looking at eliminating the license requirement for coin-operated amusement devices like these at the Pizza Ranch restaurant in Apple Valley.

Staff: ‘No longer a clear reason or purpose’ to keep it

The city of Apple Valley is looking at eliminating the license requirement for coin-operated amusement devices.

City Clerk Pam Gackstetter told the City Council during an Aug. 12 workshop that city staff had recently reviewed whether the requirement is still needed.

The city defines coin-operated amusement devices as those that operate a game, contest or amusement when a coin, token or slug is inserted and they contain no pay-off in money, coins, checks or other merchandise. They don’t include juke boxes or food vending machines.

The number of devices and licenses issued has seen little change over the last 10 years. There were 18 licenses issued for 106 devices in 2012 and 15 licenses issued for 104 devices in 2021.

The license requirements currently include an application for each location with a fee of $15 for the location plus $15 for each device. Insurance is required for children’s amusement devices, which are designed for and used exclusively as a ride for children and not connected with a carnival or circus show. The licenses are renewed annually, Gackstetter said.

The city has not received an application for an amusement ride since 2015, Gackstetter said.

Gackstetter said a survey of nine neighboring communities found that only South St. Paul requires a license for coin-operated devices.

The city’s “deep dive” of the license review found that it doesn’t meet the litmus test of keeping it, Gackstetter said.

“When we reviewed the paperwork from 1979, when this ordinance was first passed, one of the items called out that this type of license can be a source of revenue. However, revenue can no longer be a reason for issuing the license. It must serve a purpose,” she said. “That purpose can be a need for inspection, monitoring, compliance checks, enforcement, public safety, or it could be mandated or required by law. After review, we found that there was no longer a clear reason or purpose for this license.”

Council members expressed no objections to the recommendation during the Aug. 12 meeting. Gackstetter said eliminating the license will require further council action.

“I’ve asked our city attorney to draft an ordinance amendment. Once I receive the ordinance amendment, it will go before the City Council for a first reading and come back to the council for a second reading. We also need to post the amendment on our website for 10 days prior to council action,” she said. “Then, if the council passes the ordinance, it does not become effective until it has been published in the newspaper. I told our attorney it was not a rush. However, I am hoping to have everything finalized be the end of the year.”

Patty Dexter can be reached at patty.dexter@apgecm.com.

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