B-72912, MARCH 15, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 524

B-72912: Mar 15, 1948

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FOR POSTMASTERS OF FOURTH CLASS OFFICES MAY BE PAID FOR PERIODS POSTMASTERS CONTINUE TO FURNISH SUCH FACILITIES WHILE ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY AND DURING WHICH PERIODS THE PERSON ACTING IN LIEU OF THE POSTMASTER IS COMPENSATED BY THE GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF JULY 22. YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE 15 PERCENT ALLOWANCE FOR RENT. IF YOUR REPLY TO THE PRECEDING QUESTION IS IN THE NEGATIVE. IT WAS HELD THAT. POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS ARE ENTITLED TO ALLOWANCES FOR RENT. THAT DECISION WAS RENDERED AT A TIME WHEN THE COMPENSATION OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS WAS DETERMINED QUARTERLY UPON THE BASIS OF QUARTERLY RETURNS RATHER THAN UPON AN ANNUAL BASIS. AS NOW IS PROVIDED BY SECTION 8 (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 134.

B-72912, MARCH 15, 1948, 27 COMP. GEN. 524

POSTAL SERVICE - ALLOWANCES OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS - PERIODS OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY THE 15 PERCENT ALLOWANCE FOR QUARTERS, FUEL, LIGHT, AND EQUIPMENT AUTHORIZED UNDER THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1928, FOR POSTMASTERS OF FOURTH CLASS OFFICES MAY BE PAID FOR PERIODS POSTMASTERS CONTINUE TO FURNISH SUCH FACILITIES WHILE ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY AND DURING WHICH PERIODS THE PERSON ACTING IN LIEU OF THE POSTMASTER IS COMPENSATED BY THE GOVERNMENT PURSUANT TO THE ACT OF JULY 22, 1947. 7 COMP. GEN. 793, MODIFIED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, MARCH 15, 1948:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 15, 1948, REFERENCE 50, AS FOLLOWS:

THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1928, 45 STAT. 724, (39 U.S.C. 60A) PROVIDES THAT POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS SHALL BE PAID AS ALLOWANCES FOR RENT, FUEL, LIGHT AND EQUIPMENT, AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 15 PERCENTUM OF THE COMPENSATION EARNED IN EACH QUARTER. PUBLIC LAW 211, APPROVED JULY 22, 1947, PROVIDES FOR THE PAYMENT OF COMPENSATION, AT THE RATE PROVIDED BY LAW FOR POSTMASTERS' COMPENSATION, TO PERSONS WHO PERFORM THE DUTIES OF THE POSTMASTER AT POST OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE POSTMASTER ON SICK OR ANNUAL LEAVE, OR LEAVE WITHOUT PAY.

UNDER NORMAL CONDITIONS THE POSTMASTER OF A FOURTH-CLASS OFFICE WHILE ABSENT ON LEAVE WITH OR WITHOUT PAY WOULD CONTINUE TO FURNISH QUARTERS, FUEL, LIGHT AND EQUIPMENT, BUT THE LANGUAGE OF THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1928 RAISES A QUESTION AS TO WHETHER HE PROPERLY MAY CLAIM THE ALLOWANCES THEREFOR WHILE ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHETHER THE 15 PERCENT ALLOWANCE FOR RENT, FUEL, LIGHT AND EQUIPMENT PROPERLY MAY BE CLAIMED BY OR PAID TO A POSTMASTER OF A FOURTH-CLASS OFFICE FOR A PERIOD OF LEAVE WITHOUT PAY AND IN AN AMOUNT COMPUTED WHOLLY OR PARTIALLY UPON THE COMPENSATION PAID TO THE PERSON WHO PERFORMED THE DUTIES OF POSTMASTER DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE POSTMASTER ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY.

IF YOUR REPLY TO THE PRECEDING QUESTION IS IN THE NEGATIVE, MAY THE 15 PERCENT ALLOWANCE FOR RENT, FUEL, LIGHT AND EQUIPMENT PROPERLY BE PAID TO THE PERSON WHO PERFORMS THE DUTIES OF THE POSTMASTER DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE POSTMASTER ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY, AS PROVIDED IN PUBLIC LAW 211?

IN DECISION OF JUNE 12, 1928, 7 COMP. GEN. 793, IT WAS HELD THAT, UNDER THE ACT OF MAY 24, 1928, 45 STAT. 724, POSTMASTERS OF THE FOURTH CLASS ARE ENTITLED TO ALLOWANCES FOR RENT, FUEL, LIGHT, AND EQUIPMENT IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO 15 PERCENTUM OF THE COMPENSATION ACTUALLY ALLOWABLE AND PAYABLE FOR EACH QUARTER OR FOR QUARTERS UNDER ALL OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT OF JUNE 4, 1926, 44 STAT. 695. THAT DECISION WAS RENDERED AT A TIME WHEN THE COMPENSATION OF FOURTH-CLASS POSTMASTERS WAS DETERMINED QUARTERLY UPON THE BASIS OF QUARTERLY RETURNS RATHER THAN UPON AN ANNUAL BASIS, AS NOW IS PROVIDED BY SECTION 8 (A) OF PUBLIC LAW 134, APPROVED JULY 6, 1945, 59 STAT. 437. ALSO, IT WAS RENDERED AT A TIME WHEN THERE EXISTED NO AUTHORITY SUCH AS NOW IS CONTAINED IN PUBLIC LAW 211, APPROVED JULY 22, 1947, 61 STAT. 400, FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO ASSUME THE COST OF COMPENSATING PERSONS PERFORMING DUTIES OF POSTMASTERS AT POST OFFICES OF THE FOURTH CLASS DURING PERIODS OF ANNUAL AND SICK LEAVE OR WHILE SUCH POSTMASTERS ARE ABSENT IN A LEAVE WITHOUT PAY STATUS. AT THAT TIME, SUCH COST WAS ASSUMED BY THE POSTMASTER CONCERNED.

I FIND NO INDICATION THAT CONGRESS, IN AUTHORIZING THE GOVERNMENT TO ASSUME SUCH COST THROUGH THE ENACTMENT OF THE ACT OF JULY 22, 1947, SUPRA, ALSO INTENDED TO BURDEN THE POSTMASTERS WITH COSTS OF RENT, FUEL, LIGHT, AND EQUIPMENT WHICH THE GOVERNMENT PREVIOUSLY HAD BEEN AUTHORIZED TO ASSUME IN THE FORM OF ALLOWANCES. THEREFORE, IT IS CONCLUDED THAT WHERE THE POSTMASTER OF A POST OFFICE OF THE FOURTH CLASS ABSENT ON LEAVE WITHOUT PAY CONTINUES TO FURNISH QUARTERS, FUEL, LIGHT, AND EQUIPMENT TO THE SAME EXTENT, COMPUTED IN THE SAME MANNER, AS WOULD BE PROPER IF THERE WERE NO ABSENCE.