A-27555, JUNE 19, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 652

A-27555: Jun 19, 1929

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REDUCTION AFTER ADVANCEMENT IN SUCH MANNER BEING AUTHORIZED ONLY WHEN THE GROSS RECEIPTS FOR EACH OF TWO CONSECUTIVE CALENDAR YEARS ARE LESS THAN $1. IS AS FOLLOWS: "* * * PROVIDED. 500 BEFORE SUCH ADVANCEMENT IS MADE. WHENEVER THE RECEIPTS ARE NO LONGER SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY RETAINING SUCH POST OFFICE IN THE CLASS TO WHICH IT HAS BEEN ADVANCED. ARE SUCH THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE LAW QUOTED. THE POSTMASTER NOW REPORTS THAT THE INCREASE IN THE RECEIPTS DURING THE YEAR 1928 WAS DUE TO THE USE OF THE MAILS BY A BUSINESS ENTERPRISE OPERATING DURING THAT YEAR. THE REVENUES ARE NOW SO LOW THAT THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSTMASTER AND THE RECEIPTS OF THE OFFICE DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 1929 WILL BE CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN $1.

A-27555, JUNE 19, 1929, 8 COMP. GEN. 652

COMPENSATION - POSTMASTERS A FOURTH-CLASS POST OFFICE ADVANCED TO THIRD CLASS ON JULY 1 BECAUSE THE TOTAL COMPENSATION OF THE POSTMASTER FOR THE PRECEDING CALENDAR YEAR EXCEEDED $1,100 AND THE RECEIPTS OF THE POST OFFICE FOR THE SAME PERIOD EXCEEDED $1,500, AND NOT ADVANCED DUE TO UNUSUAL CONDITIONS, MAY NOT BE REDUCED TO FOURTH CLASS BY REASON OF REDUCED RECEIPTS FOR A QUARTER OF THE CALENDAR YEAR, REDUCTION AFTER ADVANCEMENT IN SUCH MANNER BEING AUTHORIZED ONLY WHEN THE GROSS RECEIPTS FOR EACH OF TWO CONSECUTIVE CALENDAR YEARS ARE LESS THAN $1,500 OR LESS THAN $1,400 FOR ONE CALENDAR YEAR.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, JUNE 19, 1929:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 4, 1929, AS FOLLOWS:

THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925 (43 STAT. 1054-5), WITH REFERENCE TO THE COMPENSATION OF POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS AND THE ADVANCEMENT OF FOURTH-CLASS POST OFFICES TO THE HIGHER CLASS, IS AS FOLLOWS:

"* * * PROVIDED, THAT WHEN THE TOTAL COMPENSATION OF ANY POSTMASTER AT A POST OFFICE OF THE FOURTH CLASS FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR SHALL AMOUNT TO $1,100, EXCLUSIVE OF COMMISSIONS ON MONEY ORDERS ISSUED, AND THE RECEIPTS OF SUCH POST OFFICE FOR THE SAME PERIOD SHALL AGGREGATE AS MUCH AS $1,500, THE OFFICE SHALL BE ASSIGNED TO THE PROPER CLASS ON JULY 1, FOLLOWING, AND THE SALARY OF THE POSTMASTER FIXED ACCORDING TO THE RECEIPTS: PROVIDED, FURTHER, THAT IN NO CASE SHALL THERE BE ALLOWED ANY POSTMASTER OF THIS CLASS A COMPENSATION GREATER THAN $300 IN ANY ONE OF THE FIRST THREE QUARTERS OF THE FISCAL YEAR, EXCLUSIVE OF MONEY-ORDER COMMISSIONS, AND IN THE LAST QUARTER OF EACH FISCAL YEAR THERE SHALL BE ALLOWED SUCH FURTHER SUMS AS HE MAY BE ENTITLED TO UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT, NOT EXCEEDING FOR THE WHOLE FISCAL YEAR THE SUM OF $1,100, EXCLUSIVE OF MONEY- ORDER COMMISSIONS; AND PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT WHENEVER UNUSUAL CONDITIONS PREVAIL THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, IN HIS DISCRETION, MAY ADVANCE ANY POST OFFICE FROM THE FOURTH CLASS TO THE APPROPRIATE CLASS INDICATED BY THE RECEIPTS OF THE PRECEDING QUARTER, NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISO WHICH REQUIRES THE COMPENSATION OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS TO REACH $1,100 FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR, EXCLUSIVE OF COMMISSIONS ON MONEY-ORDER BUSINESS, AND THAT THE RECEIPTS OF SUCH POST OFFICE FOR THE SAME PERIOD SHALL AGGREGATE AS MUCH AS $1,500 BEFORE SUCH ADVANCEMENT IS MADE; AND PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT WHEN THE POSTMASTER GENERAL HAS EXERCISED THE AUTHORITY HEREIN GRANTED, HE SHALL, WHENEVER THE RECEIPTS ARE NO LONGER SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY RETAINING SUCH POST OFFICE IN THE CLASS TO WHICH IT HAS BEEN ADVANCED, REDUCE THE GRADE OF SUCH OFFICE TO THE APPROPRIATE CLASS INDICATED BY ITS RECEIPTS FOR THE LAST PRECEDING QUARTER.'

THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSTMASTER AND THE RECEIPTS OF THE MERRITT, MICHIGAN, POST OFFICE FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 1928, ARE SUCH THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE LAW QUOTED, THE OFFICE SHOULD BE ADVANCED TO THE THIRD CLASS AND THE SALARY OF THE POSTMASTER FIXED AT $1,300 PER ANNUM. THE POSTMASTER NOW REPORTS THAT THE INCREASE IN THE RECEIPTS DURING THE YEAR 1928 WAS DUE TO THE USE OF THE MAILS BY A BUSINESS ENTERPRISE OPERATING DURING THAT YEAR, WHICH HAS SINCE BEEN DISCONTINUED, AND THE REVENUES ARE NOW SO LOW THAT THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSTMASTER AND THE RECEIPTS OF THE OFFICE DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 1929 WILL BE CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN $1,100 AND $1,500, RESPECTIVELY.

HOWEVER, THE PROVISIONS OF THE LAW AS TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF A POST OFFICE TO THE THIRD CLASS UNDER THE CONDITIONS DESCRIBED ARE MANDATORY, UNLESS THE PROVISO "THAT WHEN THE POSTMASTER GENERAL HAS EXERCISED THE AUTHORITY HEREIN GRANTED, HE SHALL, WHENEVER THE RECEIPTS ARE NO LONGER SUFFICIENT TO JUSTIFY RETAINING SUCH POST OFFICE IN THE CLASS TO WHICH IT HAS BEEN ADVANCED, REDUCE THE GRADE OF SUCH OFFICE TO THE APPROPRIATE CLASS INDICATED BY ITS RECEIPTS FOR THE LAST PRECEDING QUARTER," MAY BE HELD TO APPLY NOT ONLY TO THE PROVISO AUTHORIZING THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO ADVANCE AN OFFICE FROM THE FOURTH TO THE THIRD CLASS WHENEVER UNUSUAL CONDITIONS PREVAIL, BUT ALSO TO THE AUTHORITY TO ADVANCE AN OFFICE FROM THE FOURTH TO THE THIRD CLASS WHEN THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSTMASTER AMOUNTS TO $1,100 AND THE RECEIPTS FOR THE SAME PERIOD AGGREGATE $1,500.

YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER, AFTER ADVANCING THE MERRITT, MICHIGAN, POST OFFICE TO THE THIRD CLASS, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1929, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL HAS AUTHORITY UNDER THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, TO REDUCE IT TO THE FOURTH CLASS IF WARRANTED BY ITS RECEIPTS FOR THE QUARTER ENDING JUNE 30, 1929, OR FOR THE QUARTER ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 1929.

THE PROVISION QUOTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION WAS AMENDED BY THE ACT OF JUNE 4, 1926, 44 STAT. 695, BUT THE AMENDMENT DID NOT CHANGE MATERIALLY THE PROVISO WITH RESPECT TO ADVANCEMENT OR REDUCTION OF THE CLASS OF A POST OFFICE. WERE THE PROVISO FOR REDUCING THE CLASS OF THE POST OFFICE QUOTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION THE ONLY PROVISION FOR REDUCING THE CLASS OF THE POST OFFICE THERE MIGHT BE SOME DOUBT WHETHER IT APPLIED TO AN OFFICE ADVANCED FROM FOURTH TO THIRD CLASS BY REASON OF THE POSTMASTER'S EARNINGS OR THE RECEIPTS FOR THE FULL CALENDAR YEAR, AS WELL AS TO THOSE ADVANCED BY REASON OF UNUSUAL CONDITIONS FOR A PRECEDING QUARTER. THERE IS, HOWEVER, SPECIFIC STATUTORY AUTHORITY IN THE SAME ACT FOR THE REDUCTION OF A POST OFFICE FROM THIRD TO FOURTH CLASS UNDER THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:

* * * THAT WHEN THE GROSS POSTAL RECEIPTS OF A POST OFFICE OF THE THIRD CLASS FOR EACH OF TWO CONSECUTIVE CALENDAR YEARS ARE LESS THAN $1,500, OR WHEN IN ANY CALENDAR YEAR THE GROSS POSTAL RECEIPTS ARE LESS THAN $1,400, IT SHALL BE RELEGATED TO THE FOURTH CLASS: * * *.

IT IS EVIDENT, THEREFORE, THAT THE PROVISO QUOTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION FOR REDUCTION OF A POST OFFICE TO THE FOURTH CLASS WHEN THE RECEIPTS FOR THE LAST PRECEDING QUARTER HAD DECLINED RELATES ONLY TO A POST OFFICE ADVANCED FROM THE FOURTH CLASS BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL UNDER AUTHORITY TO DO SO "WHENEVER UNUSUAL CONDITIONS PREVAIL.' IT MUST BE HELD, THEREFORE, THAT THE POST OFFICE AT MERRITT, MICH., HAVING BEEN ADVANCED TO THIRD CLASS BY REASON OF THE COMPENSATION OF THE POSTMASTER AND RECEIPTS OF THE OFFICE FOR THE PRECEDING CALENDAR YEAR HAVING MERITED SUCH ADVANCEMENT, CAN NOT BE REDUCED TO FOURTH CLASS UNLESS AND UNTIL THE RECEIPTS OF THAT OFFICE FOR EACH OF TWO CONSECUTIVE CALENDAR YEARS AMOUNT TO LESS THAN $1,500, OR UNLESS FOR A CALENDAR YEAR THE GROSS RECEIPTS ARE LESS THAN $1,400.