Aiming to improve accessibility, Washtenaw County reduces application fee for county ID card

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners recently approved a resolution to lower the Washtenaw County ID Card application fee from $25 to $10. The change took effect at the end of October.

“By reducing the fee, we’re helping folks that don’t have other forms of ID,” says Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Clerk Edward Golembiewski. 

The ID card is available to county residents ages 11 and older who may need a formal ID but are unable to access traditional identification forms like a driver's license. Golembiewski believes that the reduced fee will help to increase the amount of applications the county Office of Records sees in the coming years. He says Keta Cowan, former CEO of Ypsilanti-based Synod Community Services, was "instrumental" in gathering community feedback that led to the fee change.

“When the program launched in 2015, there were over 38,000 Washtenaw residents without any form of photo ID,” Golembiewski explains. “We want to reduce that number over time as far as we can, so folks can get on with daily life.”

The program is the first of its kind in Michigan, and has inspired other Midwest municipalities to launch similar programs. It was briefly suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Golembiewski believes that the reduced fee will help to increase the number of applicants back to pre-pandemic levels.

“We've seen a slow return to what we were experiencing before [COVID-19],” he says. “This year we hit close to 300. Next year, with the fee decreasing, we hope that by making it more accessible, the number of applicants will increase. Next year we’re also going to redesign the card and reopen after that redesign, so we hope that will drive folks to apply and obtain IDs.”

More information on how to apply for a county ID card is available here. The program’s operating hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.
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