by Matt Amato
International travelers take note – Doraville could soon be on the itinerary.
In need of new revenue streams during the economic recession, the city has applied to process passport applications – a move potentially netting up to $70,000 a year.
According to the State Department, which must grant permission, Doraville is also the first city in Georgia to apply for the service. If given, Doraville City Hall will be competing with local post offices and Superior Court offices for the $25 passport application fee.
“All we’d need to do is pay for the postage stamp to the State Department,” said Luke Howe, the assistant to the mayor who proposed the idea. “We’ve been looking for alternative sources of revenue and a lot of cities out west and up north do this. The Superior Court clerks and post offices have had a monopoly over this locally.”
Estimated revenue for Doraville is based on consultation with cities across the country with established passport application services, including Virginia Beach; Laurel, Md., and Salem, Mass. Add Doraville’s location at the heart of the metro area’s international community and, said Howe, it would take attracting “10-15 percent of the area’s business” to earn between “$50,000 to $70,000.”
Doraville’s post office alone generated approximately $90,000 from passport applications last year, according to Howe. But to get a slice of that, the city’s would-be application processors must attend a State Department training seminar.
In the meantime, Doraville’s application is being considered along a number of grounds, including proximity to a major airport and population density.
Charlene Fang, president of the Chinese American Women’s Association, said she believes that in the long-term it would be a “great, great service if they meet all the requirements.”
With little to do “because construction has slowed to a trickle,” the city’s permit application clerk would mostly deal with passport applications, said Howe, who would help if needed.
The city is also proposing the program be conducted on a three-month trial basis, once given the nod from the State Department, before determining its profitable viability.
“It’s something that’ll foster a spirit of competition among our staff, who [it is hoped] can provide service better and quicker,” Howe said.