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Published July 22 2013

Ordinance would require checks for Moorhead cabbies

MOORHEAD – Taxicab companies and their drivers would have to undergo background checks here under an amended city ordinance that received its first reading by the City Council on Monday.

As reported by The Forum last month, the city hasn’t maintained license records on taxicab drivers operating in the city, despite a city ordinance that requires cabbies to be licensed as a chauffeur under state law and to register with the city clerk’s office.

The amended ordinance strikes the chauffeur language, which is outdated, and requires that taxicab operators must annually verify that their employees meet certain standards. That includes a criminal record free of convictions as a habitual offender for driving under the influence and for crimes against persons, such as assault, robbery and false imprisonment.

“We never did background checks on the individuals before. We only did background checks on the business itself,” said City Clerk Michelle French, whose office is working on revising a number of city ordinances this summer.

The Police Department will conduct the background checks. A city-issued form will be used to document the drivers’ records, and those forms must be kept by the operator for at least five years and be made available for review by the city upon request, the ordinance states.

Background checks will be conducted annually as the licenses come up for renewal, French said.

The revisions to the 1967 ordinance also delegate authority from the City Council to the city clerk to grant taxi and limousine licenses. Those whose license applications are rejected by the clerk’s office will have the right to appeal to the City Council within 30 days. There are no costs to the city related to the approval of licenses and permits, City Manager Michael Redlinger wrote in a memo to commissioners.

The ordinance also simplifies the language regarding insurance requirements for taxicab companies. It lowers the amount of insurance coverage they’re required to carry, from $60,000 to $50,000 for property damage and from $600,000 for liability and bodily injury insurance to $100,000 or $300,000, depending on whether it’s one person injured or two or more injured.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528