With the help of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), the State Department has reversed its decision to cease passport processing at the Piatt County Circuit Clerk's office in the county courthouse in Monticello.
"After a letter and calls from my office, I'm glad the State Department has agreed to reverse their decision," said Rep. Davis. "The Piatt County Circuit Clerk's office is the sole provider of passport services in the area and it doesn't make any sense to require people to drive to the next county just to talk to someone about getting a passport."
The circuit clerk's office provided passport services to 113 applicants in 2017 and 74 last year. It was notified by the Chicago Passport office earlier in the year that it had evaluated the region and was "deactivating facilities that no longer fill an essential need in the community" as of April 15.
Davis said he was notified that initial decision had been reversed, and that patrons could continue to obtain passports in Monticello.
Circuit Clerk Seth Floyd said the service also generates about $3,000 in revenue annually for the county.
----- (original April 11 article) -----
Local residents will no longer be able to obtain passports in the Piatt County Courthouse, a move that is frustrating to Circuit Clerk Seth Floyd, whose office provided that service to 113 applicants in 2017 and 74 last year.
The office was notified by the U.S. Department of State's Chicago Passport Agency last month that as of April 15 the Monticello-based office would no longer be a Passport Application Acceptance Facility.
“Any time there is a termination of services provided at the county level, it is frustrating to me regardless of whether the service has a price tag attached to it or not. To aggravate the issue in this instance, I do not see any financial benefit to the Chicago Passport Agency by closing our office's application processing,” said Floyd.
In an email to the circuit clerk's office, the passport agency said, “after a thorough evaluation of the region, the Customer Service Office is deactivating facilities that no longer fill an essential need in the community.”
Floyd argues it does fill a need, especially for local residents who can't make it to other passport facilities before they close for the day.
“When some centers close as early as 4 p.m., it makes it difficult for families with children in school to be forced to drive to the Champaign or Decatur facilities,” he stated.
It also means a revenue loss of at least $3,000 annually for Piatt County.
“While one may look at a $3,000 to $5,000 yearly cut as a very small amount of money, the loss of that amount causes a ripple effect when other funds are in turn diverted to compensate for the loss,” added Floyd.
He has raised objections to the halting of passport service, but is not sure if the decision will be reconsidered.
In its notice to the county, the Department of State did leave the door slightly ajar.
“The Chicago Passport Agency will keep the Piatt County IL Circuit Clerk on file for future consideration for the Passport Application Acceptance Program as demand allows,” said the letter.
Seth said the cost to the county is “minuscule” and includes making photo copies and postage for sending in applications in, costs he said were “more than offset by the processing fee that was collected by the Circuit Clerk's Office.”