Which government services are "essential"? Isn't notarization profitable?

Via Reuters:

I thought passport offices were now profit centers. Shouldn’t they stay open to help make up the funding shortfall?

I’m sure I’m not the only American ex-pat bemused by claims that access to American Consular Services is a reason we still pay our U.S. income taxes.

The State Department has lowered its fee for notarization to “only” $35. This fee can be annoying as Americans may be required to get notarization for various reasons and the Consulate may be the only legal way to do that in some foreign countries. I recall seeing a woman at a U.S. Consulate complain loudly of the fee. That was a mistake; the official was annoyed enough to charge the woman the high fee per page on her long document. :smack:

The $35 fee (which used to be higher) is allegedly just to cover expenses. Since this is BBQ Pit I will admit that, based on my observation, Consular officials often seem incompetent enough that the actual cost may even be higher.

Legally, the issue isn’t whether it’s profitable but the structure of its funding. If the fees it takes in are kept by the agency and used to fund that office, then it might be able to stay open. But if its operating funds come from a congressional authorization and the fees it takes in go back to the Treasury, then it would have to shut down, even if its fees exceed its budget. The fact that passport offices are listed among those that would close suggests that it’s the latter.

Even so, it could still be declared “essential,” but that determination is more of a case-by-case determination.