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Commissioners OK License Bureau request

NEW ULM — Brown County commissioners unanimously approved establishing a 4 p.m. cutoff time for title transfers and Real and Enhanced ID applications at the Brown County License Bureau Tuesday.

The approval came on a motion by commissioner Dean Simonsen, seconded by Commissioner Dave Borchert.

Closing time challenges and issues surrounding the motor vehicle registration system and requirements to obtain a Real or Enhanced ID require changes at the license bureau to better serve clients, according to Brown County Auditor-Treasurer (AT) Jean Prochniak.

With a 4 p.m. cutoff time for title transfers and Real and Enhanced IDs beginning Tuesday, Sept. 3, the office will be able to accept current license renewals and purchase of motor vehicle tabs through closing time that would remain at 5 p.m.

The new cutoff time would allow license bureau staff to complete work at the completion of their assigned work shift and transmit data to the State of Minnesota on a timely basis. It would allow for more flexible staff scheduling.

Other license bureau items being implemented or considered are:

• Tab renewal envelopes for next-day pickup, by return mail or inter-office delivery.

• Drop boxes.

• A license bureau triage area.

• Daily transaction accountability.

“While we understand that this may be an inconvenience for some, we are working hard to implement a quicker method of service at the license center,” Prochniak wrote. “It is our goal to provide a more convenient experience for taxpayers in the future.”

Prochniak encourages residents to buy license tab renewals at the local office at 1900 N. Franklin St. Fees collected at the local license bureau stay in Brown County and offset the impact on our tax levy. When tabs are renewed by the State, none of the fees come back to our county.

She asked taxpayers to please help keep our license bureau producing income and know that the license bureau staff is always willing to provide friendly, courteous service.

Commissioners also:

• Received a Tax Forfeited Lands (TFL) Fund update from Prochniak. The fund is used for necessary repairs, secure land against entry, vandalism and hazardous waste mitigation.

When George’s Ballroom came up for forfeiture in 2012, there was a concern about building mold and asbestos. As a way to accumulate funds for mitigation, Brown County commissioners passed a resolution to withhold the distribution of TFL funds to offset remediation costs.

The mall forfeited and the ballroom forfeited for the second time in July. The AT office is attempting to determine the best solution for the two forfeited properties.

Brown County has about $20,000 invested in the two properties. Ballroom asbestos removal was estimated to cost more than $350,000. The TFL fund balance is now $198,314.63.

Prochniak said the Minnesota Office of the State Auditor (OSA) annual audit cited Brown County for not distributing TFL funds annually. She explained to the auditors that the funds are to assist counties in the maintenance and repair/demolition of TFL, which is currently being considered by her office.

Prochniak’s response to the OSA finding is that county commissioners have been made aware of the issues and anticipated fund distribution is contingent on the ballroom sale or demolition.

“I have had multiple conversations with other counties. They too, withhold funds for this purpose and do not get findings on their annual audit,” Prochniak wrote in her board request.

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