Passport program reactivated in Clinton Township

New clerk obtaining certifications

By: Nico Rubello | C&G Newspapers | Published April 18, 2013

 Clinton Township Clerk Kim Meltzer has been earning certifications since her election in November.

Clinton Township Clerk Kim Meltzer has been earning certifications since her election in November.

Photo by Nico Rubello

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — For those who can’t break away from their workday to apply for a passport, the Clinton Township clerk’s office is offering after-hours processing two days a month.

In November, the clerk’s office reactivated the passport-processing service for first-time applicants after a brief hiatus. Passports are internationally recognized travel documents for travelers entering the U.S., according to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

“That’s for people who have really busy lifestyles, who can’t get time off work,” said township clerk Kim Meltzer, who reactivated the program after her election in November.

After-hours passport processing is available through the township, by appointment only, between 4 and 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month.

Meltzer said the service is provided at no extra cost to the township, since the clerk’s staffers have agreed to work the extended hours in exchange for taking those hours off later.

“The U.S. Postal Service has limited their hours (of passport processing), so as a result, we’re picking up that slack, so there was need for it,” she said.

Standard passport fees apply. The clerk’s office does not take passport pictures, she said, but pictures can be purchased at places like CVS and Rite-Aid.

Application forms are available through the clerk’s office for passport renewals, too. Applicants need to bring a copy of a birth certificate with a raised seal.

Call (586) 286-9422 to schedule an appointment at the Clinton Township Civic Center, at 40700 Romeo Plank Road. Applicants do not have to reside in Clinton Township to apply through the township clerk’s office.

In order to start passport processing, Meltzer had to pass an online test administered by the federal government, she said.

But it wasn’t the only accreditation the clerk has had to earn in the five-and-a-half months since taking office.

She also has earned an annual clerk’s certification through the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks. New clerks must obtain the certification annually for their first three years in office, which requires attending a weeklong conference every spring for her first three years in office.

“Being the newly elected clerk, there is a learning curve,” Meltzer said. “There are education responsibilities that the clerk must abide by.”

At this year’s conference, which ran March 17-22, clerks were tutored on their duties, and they even practiced mock board meeting scenarios, she said. Besides running elections, municipal clerks also are responsible for retaining records of township activities.

Meltzer also has obtained emergency management certifications through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The clerk is, by law, the second-in-command within the township in a disaster scenario. Meltzer said though it’s not likely that she would be in command in a disaster scenario, by earning the emergency certification, the township will qualify for federal relief dollars in the event of an emergency.

“There’s nothing telling us we have to do this,” she said. “It’s just a good thing for us to do.”

Meltzer served as a trustee on the Clinton Township Board of Trustees between 2000 and 2004. After that, she went on to serve two two-year terms in the Michigan House of Representatives. Meltzer said she worked with municipal clerks while the vice chair of the House’s Elections and Ethics Committee.

Also, the clerk’s office hired a private company to digitize hard copies of records of township board meetings dating back to 2005. The money for the service came out of the clerk’s already-allocated budget.

“We had money to do it, so that’s what we chose to spend those dollars on,” he said.

Meltzer said hard copies of the records were previously stored, but “If something happened to those, what would happen?”

The clerk said having electronic copies on file — both on the township’s computer server and in disc format — makes them easier to retrieve, should an individual or another township department request them.

“I came into this position very optimistic that we could update the system,” Meltzer added. “We’re utilizing technology to the benefit of the people. We want easy access.”

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