Madison County Circuit Court Clerk Jane Smith to Discontinue Issuing Passports

For Immediate Release For Further Information Contact: Erica Deermer 256.532.3390 Huntsville – Today Madison County Circuit Court Clerk Jane Smith announced that she will discontinue accepting US Passport applications effective May 1st of this year. While passports are a federal document, the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office has handled passport 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. This process was in place before Jane Smith took office as Circuit Court Clerk in 2001, and she continued to execute applications as an additional convenience for Madison County residents. However, ongoing cuts to our State Court budgets and continued confusion over using these fees for official expenses has caused Smith to review the practice and led to her decision to stop processing these documents. “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. 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,” said Smith. While the Circuit Court Clerk does collect fees for issuing the passports as required under state and federal law, those fees cannot be deposited into public accounts to be accessed for official use by the Clerk’s Office. However, over the years Smith 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. “Over the years I have tried several times to place these fees into public accounts to help pay salaries and other expenses, but since the Attorney General has ruled that these are not public funds, the Examiner of Public Accounts has said it was not legal to do so,” said Smith. “Since this is not allowed, I believe that it is best that we focus our efforts in the Clerk’s Office on our core responsibilities.” Madison County residents who need passports can continue to have their passport applications executed by local post offices located 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. Records show that the Clerk’s Office processed 2392 passport applications in 2011 and has processed 756 to this point in 2012.

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