Madison County Circuit Court Clerk to stop taking passport applications | News
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF)- Madison County Circuit Court Clerk Jane Smith says she will no longer accept US Passport applications.
Smith says that while passports are a federal document, her office has handled applications since 1977 under state and local laws and a United States law allowing for state officials to accept applications, along with the US Postal Service.
Smith says her office has processed 2,392 passport applications in 2011 and processed 756 to this point in 2012. She will continue to take the applications until May 1st.
"In light of continued budget cuts, I want to ensure that my office is totally focused on our primary mission, which is ensuring that our Madison County courts run smoothly," said Smith. "Executing passport applications is a federal responsibility and not a core function of this office. I continued the practice of serving as a passport acceptance agent as a convenience to the public, but as our state budgets continue to shrink, it is a convenience we can no longer afford to provide."
The Madison County Commission ordered Jane Smith to reveal where marked passport funds go. Smith collects $25 for every Madison County passport processed.
WAFF 48 News requested information into how much Smith makes from passport applications on March 20th. Smith is not legally required to disclose that information and did not respond to our request.
Smith says the Circuit Court Clerk collects fees for issuing the passports as required under state and federal law. She says those fees cannot be deposited into public accounts to be accessed for official use by the Clerk's Office. However, over the years Smith says she has used these funds to help cover business and project expenses, such as those for furniture and computers, when there were no state funds available for them.
Smith says Madison County residents who need passports can have their applications executed by post offices at 645 Wynn Drive and 8401 Whitesburg Drive. The Clerk's Office will continue to issue passports until May 1st in order to accommodate summer travelers and provide for a transition period.
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