MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Soon, you will be able to get a passport at the Madison County courthouse. Right now the average wait in a post office for a passport is about three hours.
The Madison County Commission approved an agreement for the County Probate Judge's office to have a Passport Application Acceptance Facility.
"We've received approval from the State Department. We have to go through a final approval process but once that is in place, our office can serve as an application point for all residents in Madison County," says Probate Judge Frank Barger.
Barger says the probate office has the capacity to process passports in a quicker fashion. The probate judge says the $35 passport application fee will fund work in the mental health community.
"I want to be very clear. One reason we are taking this on is to use the application fee to fund work in mental health in our community," Barger said. "As an officer I could keep one hundred percent of the application fee which is thirty-five dollars and that is not my intention. One hundred percent of the fee that we collect will be used to expand our capacity and work in mental health."
Barger says that mental health is underfunded and this is a creative way to provide those needed services in the community while also providing a more efficient place for people to get passports.
"We have a county south of us with a third of our population that is averaging twenty (passport applications) a day. If I could do just ten a day, two hundred days a year that would bring in an additional $70,000 in revenue of which could create a staff position in an organization, create some capacity in regard to the number of beds we have in our community."
He says this new agreement is a win all around, providing a needed service and using those funds to improve the mental health environment in Madison County.