B-43298, AUGUST 1, 1944, 24 COMP. GEN. 63

B-43298: Aug 1, 1944

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COMPENSATION - POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL OFFICES A POSTMASTER AT A FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL POST OFFICE WHO PERFORMS NO SERVICE FOR THE REASON THAT HIS OFFICE IS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS DURING A PARTICULAR CALENDAR YEAR IS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 29. WHERE A FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL POST OFFICE WAS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS DURING ANY PORTION OF A CALENDAR YEAR. THE POSTMASTER'S SALARY MAY NOT BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF RECEIPTS DURING SOME PRIOR YEAR WHEN THE OFFICE WAS OPEN FOR BUSINESS. 1944: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 13. SECTION 2 OF THE ACT CONTAINS A PROVISO WHICH AUTHORIZES THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO PRORATE THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY OF SEASONAL OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS OVER THE MONTHS SUCH OFFICES ARE OPEN DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 1944.

B-43298, AUGUST 1, 1944, 24 COMP. GEN. 63

COMPENSATION - POSTMASTERS AT FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL OFFICES A POSTMASTER AT A FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL POST OFFICE WHO PERFORMS NO SERVICE FOR THE REASON THAT HIS OFFICE IS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS DURING A PARTICULAR CALENDAR YEAR IS NOT ENTITLED TO PAYMENT OF THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 29, 1944, FOR POSTMASTERS OF FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL OFFICES. WHERE A FOURTH-CLASS SEASONAL POST OFFICE WAS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS DURING ANY PORTION OF A CALENDAR YEAR, RESULTING IN THE LACK OF ANY POSTAL RECEIPTS DURING THAT YEAR UPON WHICH TO COMPUTE THE ANNUAL SALARY OF THE POSTMASTER FOR THE SUCCEEDING FISCAL YEAR AS PROVIDED BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF MARCH 29, 1944, THE POSTMASTER'S SALARY MAY NOT BE COMPUTED ON THE BASIS OF RECEIPTS DURING SOME PRIOR YEAR WHEN THE OFFICE WAS OPEN FOR BUSINESS; HOWEVER, THE OFFICE MAY BE REGARDED AS IN THE CLASS OF "NEWLY ESTABLISHED OFFICES" AND THE POSTMASTER'S SALARY FIXED AS PROVIDED BY THE ACT FOR SUCH CLASS OF OFFICES.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, AUGUST 1, 1944:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 13, 1944, REFERENCE 50, AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 2 OF PUBLIC LAW 271, APPROVED MARCH 29, 1944 SPECIFIES THAT THE COMPENSATION OF POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS SHALL BE ANNUAL SALARIES TO BE FIXED OR ADJUSTED ON JULY 1 EACH YEAR, BASED UPON THE GROSS POSTAL RECEIPTS FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING. SECTION 2 OF THE ACT CONTAINS A PROVISO WHICH AUTHORIZES THE POSTMASTER GENERAL TO PRORATE THE FIXED ANNUAL SALARY OF SEASONAL OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS OVER THE MONTHS SUCH OFFICES ARE OPEN DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 1944. SOME OF THE OFFICES WHICH DID NOT OPEN DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 1943 WILL BE OPEN A PORTION OF THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1, 1944.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED WHETHER THE POSTMASTER AT A SEASONAL OFFICE WHICH WAS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS IS ENTITLED TO ANY COMPENSATION FOR THAT YEAR AND IF SO, UPON WHAT BASIS. ALSO WHETHER THE SALARY OF A POSTMASTER FOR THE SUCCEEDING YEAR IN WHICH THE OFFICE IS OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS SHOULD BE BASED UPON THE GROSS RECEIPTS FOR THE LAST CALENDAR YEAR IN WHICH POSTAL BUSINESS WAS TRANSACTED.

THE ACT OF MARCH 29, 1944, PUBLIC LAW 271, EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 1944, PROVIDES:

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:

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: PROVIDED FURTHER, THAT THE SALARIES OF POSTMASTERS AT NEWLY ESTABLISHED OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS SHALL BE FIXED AT THE LOWEST SALARY RATE, EXCEPT THAT WHENEVER UNUSUAL CONDITIONS PREVAIL AT SUCH AN OFFICE THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, IN HIS DISCRETION, MAY ADVANCE ANY SUCH OFFICE TO THE APPROPRIATE SALARY RATE INDICATED BY THE RECEIPTS OF THE PRECEDING QUARTER. (ITALICS SUPPLIED.)

THERE IS NOTHING, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, IN THE STATUTE WHICH REASONABLY MAY BE CONSIDERED AS AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF SALARY TO A FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER WHO PERFORMS NO SERVICE FOR THE REASON THAT HIS OFFICE IS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR FIRST QUESTION (FIRST SENTENCE OF THE LAST PARAGRAPH OF YOUR LETTER) IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.

REFERRING TO YOUR SECOND QUESTION (LAST SENTENCE OF YOUR LETTER), THE STATUTE DOES NOT PROVIDE SPECIFICALLY A BASIS FOR COMPUTING SALARY OF A SEASONAL FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTER WHOSE OFFICE WAS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS DURING ANY PORTION OF THE PRECEDING CALENDAR YEAR. OBVIOUSLY, IF A SEASONAL POST OFFICE IS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS "FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE ADJUSTMENT" (QUOTING THE ITALICIZED WORDS OF THE STATUTE), THERE WOULD BE NO POSTAL RECEIPTS DURING THAT CALENDAR YEAR UPON WHICH TO COMPUTE THE SALARY OF THE POSTMASTER. AS THE STATUTE DOES NOT SO PROVIDE, AND AS THE POSTAL RECEIPTS FOR ANY OTHER PRIOR CALENDAR YEAR MAY HAVE BEEN GREATLY OUT OF LINE WITH THE POSTAL RECEIPTS OF THE CURRENT CALENDAR YEAR, THERE WOULD BE NO AUTHORITY TO COMPUTE THE SALARY OF THE POSTMASTER FOR THE CURRENT CALENDAR YEAR UPON THE POSTAL RECEIPTS OF ANY PRIOR CALENDAR YEAR OTHER THAN THE CALENDAR YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE CURRENT CALENDAR YEAR. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR SECOND QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE.

HOWEVER, IN THE SECOND PROVISO TO SECTION 2 OF THE STATUTE, PROVISION IS MADE FOR FIXING THE SALARIES OF POSTMASTERS "AT NEWLY ESTABLISHED OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS.' IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY OTHER PROVISIONS IN THE LAW CONTROLLING THE MATTER, AN OFFICE OF THE FOURTH CLASS WHICH WAS NOT OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS DURING ANY PORTION OF THE CALENDAR YEAR IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE CURRENT CALENDAR YEAR DURING WHICH THE OFFICE IS OPEN FOR THE TRANSACTION OF BUSINESS, REASONABLY MAY BE REGARDED AS IN THE CLASS OF A "NEWLY ESTABLISHED OFFICE" WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE STATUTE, AND THE SALARY RATE OF THE INCUMBENT MAY BE FIXED UNDER THE PROVISION OF THE STATUTE ACCORDINGLY.