In case you haven’t heard, the United States Postal Service has been in some troubled financial waters in the last few years, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars it owes the government in payments to its employee pension system. And so the fact that it spent $180,000 on a closed post office for five years must, well, sting the agency a little bit.
Since June 1, 2008, the USPS has shelled out approximately $180,000 to lease space for a 1,500 square foot property in a Pennsylvania town, reports the The Scranton Times-Tribune.
There’s supposed to be a post office in the building, but that hasn’t happened. It’s expected to open June 8, according to the USPS. The lease lasts through 2023.
So why is this post office stuck in a useless limbo, in what would seem like a waste of money at a time when the USPS really doesn’t need to be leaking any more cash?
It sounds like it can all be chalked up to a combination of factors that have all come together to royally mess with the opening: The place was supposed to open sooner than it did (well, of course it was), but financial and safety issues, along with other problems, got in the way.
“The lease started on the building in June 2008 with the expectation to complete the construction to occupy the building for postal operations soon thereafter,” said a spokeswoman for the Postal Service’s Central Pennsylvania and Western New York districts.
But then came a snafu when the township and state Department of Transportation got together to review the design of the building — apparently the site chosen would’ve caused traffic problems and didn’t drain properly. The USPS wasn’t expecting that, she said.
After a bunch of delays in the construction, contractors had a bit of a drainage issue on their hands, as they’d built a berm to carry water along the side of the building was in the place where officials had approved a driveway.
Town officials felt the driveway would cause safety issues as drivers would have to cross two lanes of traffic on the road to get to the post office. That road is often backed up, which would create a nasty situation, officials said.
“People are going to be stopping, and it’s going to back up traffic out onto Northern Boulevard,” the township manager said. “At some point we just said, ‘Hey, somebody is going to get rear-ended or killed.’ ”
The USPS and the town later agreed to a deal that would let the post office use an access road owned by the town, if the Postal Service would pay to widen the road and pay some future maintenance costs.
As soon as the building’s owner agrees, it’s on, said the USPS spokeswoman. The agency will finally continue construction and then open the new post office.
While $180,000 is just a drop in the bucket when compared to the $5 billion the USPS lost in fiscal 2013, money is money. Especially considering the USPS was mulling closing and/or combining some locations to save money.
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U.S. Postal Service pays $180,000 for unopened post office [The Scranton Times-Tribune]