Cobb Superior Court clerk to return $84K in passport fees to county

An AJC investigation found clerk personally pocketed over $425K in passport processing fees

Cobb County Superior Court Clerk Connie Taylor has offered to reimburse the county $84,000 after an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found she had pocketed over $425,000 in passport application fees in the last two years.

Under state law, superior court clerks are allowed to supplement their income with certain passport fees, which are collected by some local agencies on behalf of the U.S. State Department.

But Taylor has been taking home significantly more than other clerks across the state, including her predecessor, who sent nearly half the fee revenue to the county.

Under federal law, clerks can charge a $35 fee for processing each passport application. And, if applicants request expedited shipping, there is an additional $24.70 tacked on for postage.

In a memo to the county manager, Taylor said a review by her office determined that she had been receiving the expedited shipping fees “in error.”

While Georgia law allows clerks to keep the $35 processing fee, “the clerk may not retain the expedited shipping fees,” the memo said.

“The superior court clerk reached out to the finance director offering to refund these funds,” said Ross Cavitt, the county spokesman.

Along with the passport fees, Taylor makes a salary of $170,000 a year and is in charge of managing the superior court clerk’s office, which maintains the official records of the court, including real estate records.

Taylor did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

The memo said going forward, passport fees related to expedited shipping will be paid to the county finance department rather than the clerk’s income. Cavitt said the board may discuss the reimbursement at next Wednesday’s work session and will vote on whether to approve it at Nov. 17 board meeting.