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Massage therapists suggest lowering proposed fees

A group of Woodbury massage therapy businesses came up with a recommendation earlier this month to reduce license fees under a proposed city ordinance.

About 15 massage business representatives attended a meeting with city staff Sept. 13 to express concerns about the language and fee schedule of an ordinance intended to curb prostitution in the city.

Gigi Decker, owner of A Sensitive Touch, said the group came up with a position statement that will be read at an upcoming city council meeting.

Although they recognize city regulation is appropriate to control illegitimate massage businesses, it is a small number of individuals that are causing trouble, the statement reads.

"We respectfully request that the fee structure assume that the majority of massage therapists are legitimate who earn limited incomes," according to the statement, which addresses the city's proposed ordinance governing massage-related businesses.

Decker added that the businesses made a strong case for trying to get the fees lowered, explaining most therapists work part-time and the fees would create financial hardships.

"We strongly encouraged (city staff) to charge us only what it might cost them to actually process the applications," she added.

City Clerk Kim Blaeser told the group the fee structure will be edited and presented in a new draft at the Oct. 12 council meeting.

The group also recommended changing some of the language used in the ordinance to better reflect the industry.

The discussion included explanation of the way a professional massage therapist should operate and dress.

"Touching erogenous zones or dressing in bikinis is not what professional massage therapists do," Decker said.

A draft of the proposed ordinance was up for approval on the Woodbury City Council's Aug. 10 consent agenda.

However, the item was pulled from the consent agenda for discussion and was tabled to give local massage businesses a chance to review it.

The edited version will be reviewed at the Oct. 12 meeting.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.