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Beltrami County Board: Security concerns moves some license services from county

In an apparent move to satisfy State Department terrorist concerns, some Beltrami County licensing services will be transferred to the state.

In a decision between processing passport applications or issuing state identification cards and first-time driver's licenses, the passports won out.

"Between the customer service and the revenue to the county, the decision to keep passports and transfer the identification cards to the state was a win-win decision for the county," County Auditor-Treasurer Kay Mack said in a memo to commissioners as they take up the issue during their regular meeting 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The County Board meets at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

In mid-October, the county was notified by the State Department that it was concerned that the County License Center was issuing first-time driver's licenses and non-driving state identification cards as well as processing passport applications, Mack said.

The State Department said the county could no longer serve as a passport acceptance agent

"Since a driver's license or ID care are very powerful documents in obtaining a passport, it becomes a national security threat to have the same office doing both in the event that an employee could be influenced to help in creating both fraudulent documents," Mack said.

The office work was analyzed, Mack said, and about two first-time driver's licenses and 178 IDs are issued annually, generating $195 a year. Meanwhile, about 1,325 passport applications are processed annually, generating $33,000 for the county, plus another $12,000 on passport photos.

So, instead, Mack is proposing that the county drop issuing first-time driver's licenses and state ID cards. "... the state office downtown is able to issue those same driver's licenses and identification cards and they are only a few blocks away," Mack said.

Most of the License Center's business is in vehicle registrations and driver's license renewals.

Also during the regular meeting, commissioners will receive an update on research being done at the National Crude Oil Spill Fate and Natural Attenuation Site.

The U.S. Geologic Survey is conducting ongoing research into an oil spill site occurring in 1979 from a leaking oil pipeline in the western part of the county. The research is tracking the movement of about 2,500 barrels of oil through the water table.

Commissioners during their 3 p.m. work session will continue to review 2011 county department proposed budgets.

Budget presentations include Veterans Services, Environmental Services, county sheriff, county jail, Extension Service and community programs funded the County Development Fund.

The County Board's consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of a victim services grant contract, approval of 2011-12 request for qualifications for remonumentation of public land survey section corners in Eckles, Port Hope, Turtle Lake, Kelliher and Woodrow townships.

Commissioners will also be asked to approve an amended contract for interpretive signs at Three Island Park, approval of a Mississippi River Trail Bicycle Route resolution and approval of a plat for Emerald Acres.