First regulations, now fees for massage parlors

Less than two months after establishing a series of regulatory hurdles massage parlors must clear to operate in Grand Junction, city officials are implementing an assortment of fees and attaching them to those hurdles.

The City Council unanimously agreed Monday night to impose charges on would-be owners who apply for and receive a license to run a massage parlor.

Under the resolution, residents will be charged $1,000 to obtain a new application and $500 each year for a license. There are additional fees for transferring ownership of the business and changing the business’ corporate structure.

City Attorney John Shaver said the fees are similar to what other communities charge to license massage parlors.

The fees are slightly higher than those assessed to applicants for liquor licenses.

Liquor license holders are charged anywhere from $96.25 to $500 for an application, depending on the type of business in which the license will be used. They’re charged $750 for a license, although City Clerk Stephanie Tuin said that likely will increase to $875 this summer and $1,000 in 2010.

Tuin said the state sets a limit on the fees municipalities can charge for liquor licenses. There is no maximum amount they can charge for massage parlor applications and licenses.

“We’re trying to make (the fees) pretty comparable,” she said prior to Monday night’s meeting.

Council members in early February adopted an ordinance that requires massage parlors to be licensed annually and subjects them to regular inspections. Owners and employees must be photographed and fingerprinted and undergo background checks.

The crackdown came after police arrested the owner of Fuji Oriental Massage for allegedly earning tens of thousands of dollars by providing sexual services and using the money to hire prostitutes and pay property taxes. Fuji Massage had operated for more than a decade before the police investigation led to the owner’s arrest and the closure of the business.

Police previously have said that they counted eight massage parlors operating in the city last year. Tuin said no massage parlors have applied for a license.

The new regulations and fees don’t apply to state-licensed massage therapists and other individuals and groups that offer legitimate health-care services.


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