Farmington could very well have its own licensing center downtown within a couple of months, if things continue to move ahead the way they have been.
At Monday's Farmington City Council meeting, city administrator Peter Herlofsky told council members he is working with two outside firms that are interested in operating a registrar's office out of city hall. If things move ahead on schedule, the office could be open very soon.
"Ideally we would like to start it during the winter months," Herlofsky said. "A couple reasons. It's not as busy, and we'd like to get it before it hits the busy season. Also, we'd like to get it (open) in the winter, when it's handier to take a short trip than to drive to another location.... We really are hoping to get something going in the next month or two."
The city of Farmington originally considered adding the registrar's office on its own, but budget restraints in 2011 prohibited that from happening. Instead, Herlofsky has been working with representatives from the Apple Valley and South St. Paul licensing centers. Both are privately run businesses, and both are interested in expanding into Farmington.
"These are people who know what they're doing and what they're dealing with," Herlofsky said Tuesday. "They know how to do the training. There's really no risk for the city."
Herlofsky is still hammering out the details, and he doesn't know which vendor the city will ultimately work with. But Herlofsky does know, from his conversations with them, that the companies would "bear the entire risk" on the financial end. For the first year or two, they will offer a lesser portion of their profits to the city. And, the city may choose to not charge them for using the space in city hall.
There will be a stipulation included in the contract that allows the city council to review the registrar's financials on a quarterly basis. Overall, Herlofsky thinks the project is a win-win. Council members seemed to agree.
"It's a service that we wanted. It brings traffic to downtown and takes the risk off the city," mayor Todd Larson said.
Herlofsky hopes to have a proposal to bring to the city council by the end of the month. Once it gets the nod locally, there are several items that have to receive state approval before the office can open.
"That's a factor we can't control," he said.
Still, Herlofsky is optimistic.
"We're doing our best to keep the situation going and we're hopeful that something can result by the end of the month," he said.