Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 9, 2014

ZIP code change irks residents

7 McCown families switched to 41139

RUSSELL — Seven families on McCown Street in Russell learned last week their postal address is being changed to Flatwoods, and they are not happy about it.

The U.S. Postal Service is changing their ZIP codes and their mail will be delivered from the Flatwoods Post Office.

That means the bottom line on mail delivered to their homes will be Flatwoods 41139, rather than Russell 41169.

The residents involved worry the change will increase their insurance rates, make them subject to some Flatwoods taxes and cause confusion in driver licensing, voter registration and other matters.

They also are annoyed about having to change their addresses on checks, letterheads and other documents, and having to notify family, friends and associates of the change.

“The main issue is we’re Russell residents. We’ve had this address for 36 years,” said Mrs. Salmons. She and her husband, Mickey, live in a split-level home on McCown Street in the Berkshire subdivision.

She already has concluded she will have to wrestle with change of address notices, tax issues and insurance rate hikes, which she believes are likely.

She bases her conclusions on a previous erroneous billing for a Flatwoods vehicle surcharge, which they only avoided by proving their residence is in Russell.

She said it also interferes with their community identity, that they view themselves as Russell residents and don’t want to change that.

In actuality, the affected residences are and will remain in Russell. City boundaries are not changing. They will continue to pay Russell city taxes.

The homes all are on the same side of McCown Street, which is in Russell city limits. Homes on the other side are in Flatwoods.

The Postal Service sent the residents notices Mrs. Salmons said they received Tuesday. The notices explain the change creating “distinct ZIP code boundary lines.”

A Postal Service spokesman said he was unable to immediately provide information about the change until he conferred with postal officials.

Mickey Salmons said it probably stems from the street being on two postal routes, with carriers from the Russell and Flatwoods post offices delivering each day.

However, he said, it only takes the Russell carrier about a minute to make the loop down the street and back.

Russell Mayor Bill Hopkins said the change is disruptive and the Postal Service is recategorizing several Flatwoods addresses as Russell ones. “The idea you buy a house in Russell is because that’s where you want to live. I’m sure people in Flatwoods don’t like the idea their address is being changed. It goes both ways.”

The change will not affect the tax base, he said.

Also, the Postal Service is making the change effective March 22, which is not enough time to cope with adjusting, he said.

A 2006 report from the Congressional Research Service warns ZIP codes that are not aligned with municipal boundaries can result in higher insurance rates, confusion in voter registration, misdirected property and sales tax revenues and property value effects.

The report offers a potential compromise, allowing the residents to continue using the Russell designation while adopting the new ZIP code.

Computer sorting of mail would minimize mistaken sorting, the report said.

That would be an acceptable solution, Hopkins believes. “We’re interested in the name “Russell” being on the letter. If it comes from the Flatwoods Post Office it doesn’t matter.”

All seven households on the Russell side of the street have signed a petition asking the Postal Service to reconsider the change.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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