PASSPORT SERVICES NO LONGER AVAILABLE AT THE CASS COUNTY RECORDER'S OFFICE
(ATLANTIC) Effective at the close of business today, the Cass County Recorder’s office will no longer be processing passport applications. However, the Cass County Auditor’s office will be assuming that responsibility,
“There have been recent changes implemented by the US Secretary of State Office that are filtering down to the county level,” states Joyce Jensen, Cass County Recorder. “The changes center around county recorder offices that are considered ‘dual function facilities’; they are County Registrars for the vital records (birth, marriage, & death records) in their county and also are certified passport acceptance agents.”
Recorders throughout the State of Iowa received a letter from Passport Services dated Oct. 29, 2010, stating that if they could not comply with new policies, they would no longer be permitted to process passport applications. There are stipulations to which the Recorder must adhere in order to keep the service in the office.
The first of those is physical space. Separate physical space is required under the new policy. That entails separate public counters, separate entrances, separate private workstations, and a physical separation or wall between the workspaces. Information and files must also be physically separated from birth record files and not accessible to anyone but those working with passports. The second requirement is that the person processing passport applications can not have access to birth records or indexes of any form.
“This policy change creates a huge lack of customer service locales for passport customers,” stated Jensen. “The Iowa County Recorder’s Association has contacted legislators at all levels for assistance with this matter. For larger offices, the service will remain available if they can comply. For the small offices, such as mine, there is no way to appease Passport Services and still provide quality customer services in all the other areas we specialize in.”
County Auditor Dale Sunderman and County Recorder Joyce Jensen decided that they did not want to lose the local customer service that they provide their constituents. Therefore after discussion with the Board of Supervisors the decision was made that the personnel in the auditor’s office would begin training to become passport agents.
The current implementation date for the changes is May 1, 2011. The last date for processing a passport application through the County Recorder’s office will be April 29, 2011.
“It is will much regret that we will no longer be able to provide this service to our customer,” said Jensen. “I am very pleased that this service will still be provided on the local level and our customers will not have to drive to a more distant city for this service.”