Rochester – Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo announced her opposition to the U.S. State Department's decision to increase the passport application fee by $3.00. Beginning February 1, first-time adult passport applicants will now pay $100.00; children under 16 will pay $85.00. Dinolfo also announced that she was reducing the fee for passport photos in her offices by $3.00 to offset the increase in addition to lobbying for the federal government's decision to be rescinded. Due to Dinolfo's actions, the total fees for a first-time passport application and photos will remain $107.00 for adults and $92.00 for children under 16.
"The federal government is making passports a necessity for travel," said Dinolfo. "Now, they are asking taxpayers to pay even more to obtain one. It's simply unfair. Therefore, I'm lowering our fee for passport photos to absorb the increased cost on our families."
In addition, the federal government has reduced the portion of the passport application fee retained by the County from $30.00 to $25.00, costing the County nearly $60,000 annually. Dinolfo estimates reducing the photo fee will cost the Clerk's Office an additional $25,000 annually. She plans to offset the loss by seeking efficiencies in her office and generating increased passport business.
"By reducing the County's share of the passport fee while raising prices, local taxpayers are hit with a double whammy," said Dinolfo. "Not only is the federal government asking local taxpayers to pay more for a passport, they are taking away dollars that are used to pay for vital County programs and keep property taxes as low as possible. That's why I've written and will continue to lobby our local Congressional delegation and our Senators to oppose the State Department's decision."
Dinolfo urged local residents to apply for a passport with the County Clerk's Office to keep their money working at home. She stated that increased passport outreach events will be held by the Clerk's Office to assist customers. In 2007, her office held 166 passport outreach events throughout the community with local schools, churches and businesses.
"I ask that local taxpayers keep their dollars working at home by applying for a passport in the County Clerk's Office," said Dinolfo. "When you apply with us a portion of your fee stays here and is part of the surplus my office returns to taxpayers to pay for other County services and to keep taxes stable. If your business, church or organization is interested in partnering with us to bring passport services to your location, I'd be excited to talk with you."
The reduced $7.00 fee for passport photos will go into effect Friday, January 25. The Monroe County Clerk's Office processed over 20,000 passport applications and photos last year generating $348,751 in revenue.
The Monroe County Clerk's Office will hold a Passport Saturday, this Saturday, January 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the County Office Building, 39 W. Main St. This will be the last Passport Saturday before the federal government's fee increases go in to effect. However, the lower $7.00 price for passport photos will already be in effect.
Organizations interested in partnering to bring passport services to their location can contact the Monroe County Clerk's Office at 753-1645.