B-41367, APRIL 29, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 821

B-41367: Apr 29, 1944

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THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL MAY AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY OF POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL POST OFFICES TO BE PRORATED OVER THE MONTHS SUCH OFFICES ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS DURING A FISCAL YEAR THE GROSS RECEIPTS OF SUCH AN OFFICE DURING THE PERIOD IT REMAINS OPEN SHOULD BE REGARDED AS THE ANNUAL POSTAL RECEIPTS ON WHICH THE POSTMASTER'S ANNUAL SALARY IS TO BE BASED. THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL MAY AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY OF POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL OFFICES PRORATED OVER THE MONTHS SUCH OFFICE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS DURING A FISCAL YEAR. OR IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN OPEN. AS THE SALARY RATES FIXED IN SAID ACT ARE ANNUAL RATES. FOR POSTMASTERS AT SEASONAL OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS ARE ANNUAL RATES.

B-41367, APRIL 29, 1944, 23 COMP. GEN. 821

COMPENSATION - POSTMASTERS OF FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL OFFICES UNDER THE PROVISION OF SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 29, 1944, THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL MAY AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY OF POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL POST OFFICES TO BE PRORATED OVER THE MONTHS SUCH OFFICES ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS DURING A FISCAL YEAR THE GROSS RECEIPTS OF SUCH AN OFFICE DURING THE PERIOD IT REMAINS OPEN SHOULD BE REGARDED AS THE ANNUAL POSTAL RECEIPTS ON WHICH THE POSTMASTER'S ANNUAL SALARY IS TO BE BASED, AND SEMI-MONTHLY PRO RATA PAYMENTS MAY BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE NUMBER OF MONTHS THE OFFICE REMAINS OPEN DURING THE FISCAL YEAR. THE PROVISION IN SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 29, 1944, THAT THE POSTMASTER GENERAL MAY AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY OF POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL OFFICES PRORATED OVER THE MONTHS SUCH OFFICE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS DURING A FISCAL YEAR, MERELY FIXES A DISCRETION IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO PRORATE THE ANNUAL SALARIES OF SUCH POSTMASTERS OVER THE NUMBER OF MONTHS A SEASONAL POST OFFICE REMAINS OPEN, OR IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN OPEN, FOR BUSINESS, BUT, AS THE SALARY RATES FIXED IN SAID ACT ARE ANNUAL RATES, PAYMENT THEREOF MAY BE MADE AT THE RATE OF ONE TWELFTH OF THE ANNUAL SALARY FOR EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR. AS THE SALARY RATES FIXED BY THE ACT OF MARCH 29, 1944, FOR POSTMASTERS AT SEASONAL OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS ARE ANNUAL RATES, THE PRO RATA PAYMENTS OF THE ANNUAL SALARY OF POSTMASTERS AT SEASONAL OFFICES SHOULD BE SPREAD OVER A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF MONTHS TO INSURE THAT THE FINAL PAYMENT OF SALARY FOR THE YEAR IS NOT MADE UNTIL THE ENTIRE SERVICE REQUIRED DURING THE YEAR SHALL HAVE BEEN RENDERED; AND, IF THERE IS DOUBT IN ANY CASE AS TO THE NUMBER OF MONTHS AN OFFICE WILL REMAIN OPEN, THE FINAL SALARY PAYMENT SHOULD NOT BE MADE UNTIL THE OFFICE IS CLOSED FOR THE YEAR.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, APRIL 29, 1944:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 10, 1944, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS RELATES TO PUBLIC LAW NO. 271, APPROVED MARCH 29, 1944, WHICH PROVIDES FOR A CHANGE IN THE PROCEDURE HERETOFORE FOLLOWED IN FIXING THE SALARIES OF POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH CLASS OFFICES.

THE PROVISO IN SECTION 2 OF THIS ACT AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY PRORATED OVER THE MONTHS SEASONAL OFFICES ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR. UNDER THIS PROVISO, IT APPEARS THAT AT A SEASONAL OFFICE OPEN THREE MONTHS DURING A CALENDAR YEAR AND AT WHICH THE GROSS (ADJUSTED) POSTAL RECEIPTS AMOUNT TO $51.00 PER MONTH, OR $153.00 PER YEAR, THE ANNUAL SALARY OF THE POSTMASTER WOULD BE $288.00 PAYABLE SEMI-MONTHLY AT THE RATE OF $96.00 PER MONTH FOR THE THREE MONTHS DURING THE FISCAL YEAR THE OFFICE IS OPEN. IS THIS INTERPRETATION CORRECT?

THE NUMBER OF MONTHS EACH FISCAL YEAR DURING WHICH SEASONAL OFFICES REMAIN OPEN VARIES FROM YEAR TO YEAR AND POSTMASTERS AT SUCH OFFICES FREQUENTLY ARE AUTHORIZED TO REMAIN OPEN BEYOND THE DATE ORIGINALLY FIXED FOR CLOSING. IF YOUR ANSWER TO THE QUESTION IN THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH IS IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER A POSTMASTER MAY BE REQUIRED TO SERVE WITHOUT COMPENSATION FOR THE NUMBER OF MONTHS A SEASONAL OFFICE REMAINS OPEN BEYOND THE DATE ORIGINALLY FIXED FOR CLOSING AND AFTER THE AMOUNT OF THE ANNUAL SALARY HAS BEEN PAID OVER THE PERIOD THE OFFICE WAS EXPECTED TO REMAIN OPEN.

THE ACT OF MARCH 29, 1944, 58 STAT. 130, PUBLIC LAW 271, PROVIDES, IN PERTINENT PART, AS OLLOWS:

SEC. 2. THE COMPENSATION OF POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS SHALL BE ANNUAL SALARIES, GRADED IN EVEN DOLLARS, AND PAYABLE IN SEMIMONTHLY PAYMENTS, TO BE ASCERTAINED AND FIXED BY THE POSTMASTER GENERAL FROM THEIR RESPECTIVE QUARTERLY RETURNS TO THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, OR COPIES OR DUPLICATES THEREOF TO THE FIRST ASSISTANT POSTMASTER GENERAL, FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE ADJUSTMENT, BASED ON GROSS POSTAL RECEIPTS AT THE FOLLOWING RATES, NAMELY:

$150 BUT LESS THAN $200---------------------------------$288

PROVIDED, THAT AT SEASONAL OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL MAY AUTHORIZE THE PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY PRORATED OVER THE MONTHS SUCH OFFICE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS DURING A FISCAL YEAR. * * *

YOUR INTERPRETATION RESPECTING THE COMPUTATION OF THE SEMIMONTHLY PRO RATA PAYMENTS OF THE ANNUAL SALARY AS INDICATED IN THE EXAMPLE GIVEN IN THE SECOND PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER IS CORRECT.

REFERRING TO THE QUESTION RAISED IN THE CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER, NO QUESTION WOULD ARISE OF REQUIRING THE POSTMASTER TO SERVE WITHOUT COMPENSATION FOR ANY PORTION OF THE YEAR FOR THE REASON THAT THE SALARY RATES FIXED IN THE STATUTE, THE COMPUTATION OF WHICH IS BASED UPON THE RECEIPTS OF THE PRIOR FISCAL YEAR ARE ANNUAL RATES NORMALLY FOR PAYMENT OVER THE ENTIRE YEAR, EVEN THOUGH A SEASONAL POST OFFICE IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS ONLY A PART OF THE YEAR. THE FIRST PROVISO IN SECTION 2 OF THE STATUTE, ABOVE QUOTED, IS NOT MANDATORY. RATHER IT MERELY FIXED A DISCRETION IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE TO PRORATE ANNUAL SALARIES OVER THE NUMBER OF MONTHS A SEASONAL POST OFFICE REMAINS OPEN, OR IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN OPEN, FOR BUSINESS. OF COURSE, SUCH SALARY PAYMENTS MAY BE MADE OVER THE ENTIRE YEAR AT THE RATE OF ONE TWELFTH OF THE ANNUAL SALARY FOR EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR. PAYMENTS OF SALARY SHOULD NOT BE MADE IN ADVANCE OF THE RENDITION OF SERVICE. SECTION 3648 REVISED STATUTES. ACCORDINGLY, SHOULD THERE BE ANY DOUBT REGARDING THE NUMBER OF MONTHS A SEASONAL POST OFFICE WILL REMAIN OPEN, THE PRO RATA PAYMENTS OF THE ANNUAL SALARY OF THE POSTMASTER FIXED UPON THE PRECEDING FISCAL YEAR'S RECEIPTS SHOULD BE SPREAD OVER A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF MONTHS TO INSURE THAT THE FINAL PAYMENT OF SALARY FOR THE YEAR IS NOT MADE UNTIL THE ENTIRE SERVICE REQUIRED DURING THE YEAR SHALL HAVE BEEN RENDERED. IF, IN ANY CASE, IT BECOMES NECESSARY TO KEEP A POST OFFICE OPEN BEYOND THE TIME ORIGINALLY FIXED FOR CLOSING, OR BEYOND THE NUMBER OF MONTHS OVER WHICH THE ANNUAL SALARY HAS BEEN PRORATED ADMINISTRATIVELY, THE FINAL SALARY PAYMENT SHOULD NOT BE MADE UNTIL THE OFFICE IS CLOSED FOR THE YEAR.