A decade ago, if you had gone to the Guilford County Register of Deeds Office and asked for a passport, they would have told you that you were in the wrong place.
However, seven years ago, Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen added the service to the long list of existing deeds office services, and now, in 2023, he’s kind of amazed at the immense popularity of the offering.
On Friday, Jan. 27, the Register of Deeds Office took in 88 applications and Thigpen said, in recent months, the service has been in high demand and he’s been worried about the staff who handle passports being overcome with exhaustion. In the past, much of the work has been handled by staff with other deeds duties, however, on Friday Thigpen said the office may need another position dedicated to the service.
That’s not a bad thing for county taxpayers because the passport service – and the deed’s office operations as a whole is a profit center.
It’s only halfway through the fiscal year – Guilford County’s financial year starts on July 1 – but the revenue from passports is already at its projected goal for the entirety of fiscal 2022-2023.
Thigpen said he’s now hoping that the revenue generated by passport services could hit $200,000 by the time the fiscal year wraps up on June 30.
“That would be really good,” Thigpen said of the possible $200,000 mark.
He said that, obviously, during the pandemic, the passport business wasn’t the best business to be in, but he added that the new numbers coming in lately show that people are starting to travel to remote destinations again.
“I do think things are opening up,” he said. “People are starting to travel again and things are starting to get back to normal.”
Thigpen said that, on days when kids are out of school, the demand for passports shoots up, and he added that his office intends to hold more “Passport Fair” events out in the community in 2023.
Is Thigpen in competition with USPS? It appears this is a duplication of services. Why? I doubt his passport services breaks even. The person(s) in charge of passport services has a supervisor(s) that has to be paid and the payroll personnel in charge of issuing paychecks and on and on. Then there are additional expenses associated with passport services. I suspect the interest in this duplicate service will wane in time. I doubt that the service pays for itself. Anyone who knows government has heard this refrain before. On the other hand, it probably is convenient for the user.
No, it pays for itself. It’s already made over $200,000 this fiscal year with six more months to go, so it will probably make 400,000-500,000 that more than pays for itself. I wasn’t aware of the service until recently. I had an appointment at the Post Office at 10. I arrived at 9:55 and waited until 10:15 at which point I was told the guy was on break and would not be able to get to me today. I then found out online the county does it. I walked in and was immediately helped and was out in less than 15 minutes.
There are expenses associated with the service that need to be taken into consideration. Government never tells the whole story. The greatest expense of any organization, private or otherwise, is always personnel. Thigpin reports $200K but that does not take into account expenses. As far as the dollar figures you state, $400K to $500K, I do not know where these figures came from. I doubt very seriously that will happen. If so, Thigpin will need to hire more than one person to handle the traffic. Since government departments are not in the business to make a profit, the passport fees should be reduced. As far as the USPS, my passport had lapsed so had to get another. Went through USPS without a problem.
USPS is in need of all the competition they can get! It’s a union, for that matter.
Unionization of government jobs should not be allowed. This includes teachers.
As if the people in the Tax Department don’t have enough work to do already. How about getting someone in the department who knows how to program their software programs for County Business Property Tax Listings so that when it asks questions like “Do you have any additions?” and you answer NO because you didn’t, then go on to the next page, and next, and so on, then sign and submit, you don’t get a notice from them asking if you’re out of business. Seems that question requires a YES answer if you intend to carry over the stuff you had in PRIOR YEARS. Well, that’s not what the question asked, so all the information was zeroed out, everything, and required one of his freed-up employees to stop giving out a passport and email me to clarify, then resend the tax listing so I could redo it for them when I’d moved on to the business taxes. I don’t know how many people had this same issue, but I bet there were several who were pretty hot about it. Now finding out they’re fooling around with passports when they don’t have to, I’m a bit more irritated. Especially when we don’t know anymore how much Jeff Thigpen makes each year. Just sayin’. And another thing, it seems Guilford County can’t ever seem to get their software programs to work right, so see if they can hire some people who do focus groups using real people to run through using them before releasing them to the employees and the public, that would be really futuristic.
This passport issue is in the Register of Deeds department, NOT the tax department. Thigpen and staff do a good job running that department.
The deed registration fee was doubled several years ago. Technology has enhanced the operation of the recording process, it seems the office should revert back to the former deed registration fee. As far as Thigpen and staff doing a good job, attorneys and real estate people rather than the general public would have more contact.