B-130475, FEB. 27, 1957

B-130475: Feb 27, 1957

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SINCE THE AUTHORIZATION TO MOVE WAS RESCINDED PRIOR TO MOVING. THE OFFICE WAS DISCONTINUED SHORTLY THEREAFTER. THAT REQUEST WAS DENIED OCTOBER 7. SHE AGAIN REQUESTED PERMISSION TO MOVE BECAUSE OF THE HIGH RENT SHE WAS REQUIRED TO PAY AT THE HICKORY POINT LOCATION. IF IT WERE NOT DISCONTINUED. COMPERRY WAS ADVISED BY LETTER OF MARCH 8. COMPERRY REPEATED HER REQUEST THAT EITHER SHE BE GRANTED PERMISSION TO MOVE OR THE OFFICE BE DISCONTINUED BECAUSE OF THE HIGH RENT SHE WAS BEING FORCED TO PAY. COMPERRY WAS AUTHORIZED TO MOVE THE OFFICE AS REQUESTED. THE AUTHORIZATION TO MOVE WAS RESCINDED AND THE NEXT DAY AN ORDER WAS ISSUED DISCONTINUING THE HICKORY POINT POST OFFICE. IS CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT OF THE UNRECOVERED $113.

B-130475, FEB. 27, 1957

TO THE HONORABLE, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL:

ON JANUARY 25, 1957, YOUR REFERENCE 800, THE DEPUTY POSTMASTER GENERAL REQUESTED OUR DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOUR DEPARTMENT COULD HONOR THE CLAIM OF GENEVA S. COMPERRY, FORMERLY ACTING POSTMASTER AT HICKORY POINT, TENNESSEE, FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES INCURRED IN PREPARING NEW QUARTERS FOR THE POST OFFICE, SINCE THE AUTHORIZATION TO MOVE WAS RESCINDED PRIOR TO MOVING, AND THE OFFICE WAS DISCONTINUED SHORTLY THEREAFTER.

THE RECORD PRESENTED TO US INDICATES THAT MRS. COMPERRY ASSUMED CHARGE AT THE HICKORY POINT POST OFFICE ON AUGUST 15, 1954, AND SHORTLY THEREAFTER SUBMITTED A REQUEST AND PETITION TO CHANGE THE SITE OF THE OFFICE TO THE EXCEL COMMUNITY. THAT REQUEST WAS DENIED OCTOBER 7, 1954. ON OCTOBER 9, 1954, SHE AGAIN REQUESTED PERMISSION TO MOVE BECAUSE OF THE HIGH RENT SHE WAS REQUIRED TO PAY AT THE HICKORY POINT LOCATION. AS A RESULT OF THAT REQUEST, AN INSPECTOR VISITED HICKORY POINT, AND IN HIS REPORT DATED DECEMBER 13, 1954, HE RECOMMENDED, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT THE HICKORY POINT OFFICE BE DISCONTINUED OR, IF IT WERE NOT DISCONTINUED, THAT MRS. COMPERRY BE PERMITTED TO MOVE THE OFFICE TO HER STORE IN THE EXCEL COMMUNITY. MRS. COMPERRY WAS ADVISED BY LETTER OF MARCH 8, 1955, TO TAKE NO ACTION TO MOVE THE OFFICE PENDING FURTHER CONSIDERATION REGARDING ITS DISCONTINUANCE. THREE TIMES IN 1955 MRS. COMPERRY REPEATED HER REQUEST THAT EITHER SHE BE GRANTED PERMISSION TO MOVE OR THE OFFICE BE DISCONTINUED BECAUSE OF THE HIGH RENT SHE WAS BEING FORCED TO PAY. FORM LETTER DATED OCTOBER 28, 1955, MRS. COMPERRY WAS AUTHORIZED TO MOVE THE OFFICE AS REQUESTED, EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 5, 1955. IMMEDIATELY UPON RECEIPT OF THIS AUTHORIZATION, SHE INSTITUTED PREPARATION OF THE NEW QUARTERS TO ACCOMMODATE THE POST OFFICE. HOWEVER, ON NOVEMBER 2, 1955, THE AUTHORIZATION TO MOVE WAS RESCINDED AND THE NEXT DAY AN ORDER WAS ISSUED DISCONTINUING THE HICKORY POINT POST OFFICE, EFFECTIVE NOVEMBER 30, 1955. MRS. COMPERRY EXPENDED $173 IN PREPARATION OF THE NEW QUARTERS PRIOR TO THE RESCINDING OF THE AUTHORIZATION TO MOVE. SHE RECOVERED $60 OF THIS AMOUNT BY SALE OF EQUIPMENT, BUT IS CLAIMING REIMBURSEMENT OF THE UNRECOVERED $113.

YOUR DEPUTY'S LETTER OF JANUARY 25, 1957, REFERS TO THE CASE CONSIDERED IN OUR DECISION OF NOVEMBER 16, 1956, B-129527, AS BEING ANALOGOUS TO THE PRESENT SITUATION. IN THAT DECISION WE AUTHORIZED PAYMENT FOR ALTERATIONS TO A STORE TO ACCOMMODATE A CONTRACT POST OFFICE STATION, WHERE THE CONTRACT WAS RESCINDED PRIOR TO ITS EFFECTIVE DATE. HOWEVER, THAT DECISION INVOLVED A CONTRACT, AND THE CONCLUSION WAS BASED UPON THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT AS INTERPRETED UNDER CONTRACT LAW, RESTING IN PART UPON A DEFECT IN THE NOTIFICATION OF CANCELLATION REQUIRED BY THE CONTRACT TERMS. THE PRESENT CASE CONCERNS A FOURTH CLASS POST OFFICE, AND THE CLAIMANT--- THE POSTMASTER--- WAS A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE, NOT A CONTRACTOR. SINCE NO CONTRACT WAS INVOLVED HERE, THE CASE MUST BE CONSIDERED UNDER THE STATUTES AFFECTING POSTMASTERS OF FOURTH CLASS POST OFFICES AND THE DECISION OF NOVEMBER 16, 1956, IS NOT APPLICABLE.

UNDER EXISTING LAW, FOURTH CLASS POSTMASTERS FURNISH THEIR OWN QUARTERS AND EQUIPMENT. THERE IS NO PROVISION OF LAW AUTHORIZING REIMBURSEMENT OF THE COST THEREOF EXCEPT FOR THE ALLOWANCE FOR RENT, FUEL, LIGHT AND EQUIPMENT PROVIDED BY 39 U.S.C. 1010, CONSISTING OF AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 15 PERCENTUM OF THE FOURTH CLASS POSTMASTER'S BASIC COMPENSATION. APPARENTLY, MRS. COMPERRY RECEIVED THIS ALLOWANCE DURING THE PERIOD SHE SERVED AS ACTING POSTMASTER. ALSO, IT APPEARS THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL HAS AUTHORITY TO DISCONTINUE ANY POST OFFICE WHERE THE EFFICIENCY OF THE SERVICE SO REQUIRES (39 U.S.C. 2). IN CONNECTION WITH THAT AUTHORITY TO DISCONTINUE POST OFFICES, PUBLIC LAW 623 OF THE 83D CONGRESS, 68 STAT. 766 (39 U.S.C. 69 AND 70) REQUIRES THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO REIMBURSE POSTMASTERS OF SUCH DISCONTINUED POST OFFICES, ON A FAIR AND EQUITABLE BASIS, FOR ANY FIXTURES AND EQUIPMENT IN USE IN SUCH POST OFFICES AT THE TIME OF DISCONTINUANCE, WHICH WERE FURNISHED BY SUCH POSTMASTERS OUT OF PERSONAL FUNDS AND WHICH WERE NECESSARY TO THE EFFICIENT OPERATION OF SUCH POST OFFICES. HOWEVER, THIS STATUTE SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITS SUCH PAYMENTS TO POSTMASTERS OF DISCONTINUED FOURTH CLASS POST OFFICES. AN EXAMINATION OF THE LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THIS ACT DISCLOSES THAT FOURTH CLASS POSTMASTERS WERE EXCEPTED FROM ITS PROVISIONS BECAUSE IT WAS BELIEVED THAT SUCH POSTMASTERS WERE ADEQUATELY REIMBURSED FOR SUCH EXPENDITURES BY THE 15 PERCENT ALLOWANCE REFERRED TO ABOVE. WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE EXPENDITURES HERE INVOLVED ARE NOT FOR FIXTURES AND EQUIPMENT IN USE IN THE POST OFFICE AT TIME OF DISCONTINUANCE; HENCE, THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY WITHIN THIS SPECIFIC PROHIBITION, BUT IT MUST ALSO BE RECOGNIZED THAT THERE LIKEWISE IS NO SPECIFIC AUTHORITY FOR REIMBURSEMENT IN THIS CASE AND THE CITED PROHIBITION CLEARLY INDICATES A CONGRESSIONAL INTENT THAT THE ALLOWANCE PROVIDED BY 39 U.S.C. 1010 CONSTITUTES ALL THE REIMBURSEMENT FOR EQUIPMENT, ETC., EXPENSES TO WHICH A FOURTH CLASS POSTMASTER IS ENTITLED. MOREOVER, THE ENACTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW 623 SUGGESTS A POLICY ON THE PART OF THE CONGRESS TO CONTROL BY SPECIFIC LEGISLATIVE AUTHORIZATION REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES OF THIS NATURE AND WE WOULD NOT BE WARRANTED IN ENLARGING UPON EXISTING LAW BY CONSTRUCTION.

ACCORDINGLY, WE CONCLUDE THAT THERE IS NO AUTHORITY OF LAW WHEREBY MRS. COMPERRY CAN BE REIMBURSED FOR THE EXPENDITURE HERE INVOLVED.