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Wis. budget may exempt CU from dealership closure
RACINE, Wis. (6/4/09)--A provision in the Wisconsin state budget may allow Educators CU to continue operating its used-car sale business, which it was ordered by a state regulator last year to shut down. The regulator made the order after a state dealers association complained that car sales aren’t allowed under state rules governing credit unions. Last week, the state’s Joint Finance Committee included an amendment in the budget that would allow the $1.018 billion asset Racine, Wis.-based credit union to continue operating a used-car auto lot in Racine County (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel June 2). However, auto dealers who asked the state Office of Credit Unions (OCU) last year to order Educators’ car business to cease operations said they will fight the amendment when the budget is considered by the state’s full legislature and--if it passes--by Gov. Jim Doyle, the newspaper said. In November, Educators CU said it would divest its auto dealership under an agreement with OCU (News Now Nov. 4). The credit union had established a retail automobile dealership to provide car-buying resources and used-car sales to its members and consumers in 2002. The Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealers Association had filed a complaint with the OCU, saying that the credit union charter does not allow credit unions to sell vehicles, the credit union said. Educators CU believes the complaint was filed to prevent competition--each year more than 700 individuals purchase high-quality used vehicles, the credit union told News Now in November. The OCU initially ruled that the State of Wisconsin Credit Union Statutes, Chapter 186, allows credit unions to own only car leasing services, not retail car sales. The credit union appealed the ruling, before the agreement was made. The dealers association filed a court petition to overturn the agreement the credit union had with the state regulator, which allowed 18 months for the credit union to divest its auto sales business (News Now Dec. 3, 2008). The petition was filed Nov. 12 in Dane County Circuit Court and named as defendants the OCU; the state Credit Union Review Board; Educators CU; and ECU Financial Services. Calls to officials at Educators CU and the OCU were not returned to News Now by press time.
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