Postal Service Wants Its Tubs Back — Now!

OK, I don’t want to make light of a federal crime here so I’ll agree with the Postal Service: You better return that official USPS pen or mail tub that you swiped from the local branch.

Not only is our mail delivery system in disarray, but we (as in taxpayers) apparently spent nearly $50 million last year replacing stolen necessities. Not that taking advantage of the current amnesty period to return those items with no questions asked will bring financial solvency back. Nevertheless, check out more of the details below.

“We are in a financial crisis and simply cannot afford this type of unnecessary expense,” said David Williams, vice president of USPS network operations. “The equipment is federal property, and we want it back.”

The Postal Service is aggressively cutting costs with plans to close thousands of post offices and hundreds of mail-processing facilities. Observers expect that next week it will announce losses of at least $10 billion for fiscal 2011.

It is a federal crime to steal postal equipment, and doing so can lead to up to three years in prison or up to $250,000 in fines.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service said that with more than 32,000 post offices and more than 200 mail-processing facilities nationwide, the USPS uses thousands of pallets (costing $20 each) to move crates of mail, letter trays ($2.75 each) and translucent mail tubs with “United States Postal Service” emblazoned along the side in black letters ($4 each).

The Postal Service said its amnesty program will run until Nov. 26. Customers can drop off equipment at post offices or mail-processing facilities, and organizations with large amounts of equipment can arrange for a one-time pickup.

 

Township Trustee Paid $332,000 for….. Nothing?

This story is unfortunate, and I genuinely feel bad for the trustee who lost this money — and was subsequently ambushed at her home by a news crew. But a mistake was made — and it was a big one. It just simply points to yet another instance of township government in Indiana not using taxpayer resources very effectively.

A township trustee who paid up front for a fire truck that never showed up is now facing scrutiny from the State Board of Accounts and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

Pamela Crum, the trustee of Sheffield Township in Tippecanoe County, wrote a check for $332,970 to Elite Fire Apparatus of Wisconsin, but the company went bankrupt shortly after, according to an audit by the State Board of Accounts.

"The result was, they were just out the money and they were going to get no fire truck, and, according to the bankruptcy court, there were no assets to distribute," said Paul Joyce, deputy state examiner for the State Board of Accounts.

Indiana code states that public officials should not pay for goods or services up front, unless it’s a recurring expense, such as rent, 6News’ Kara Kenney reported.

"You’re not supposed to pay for anything in advance," Joyce said. "That’s because you might not get the goods and services you purchased."

Joyce called Sheffield Township’s $332,970 check the worst case the agency had ever seen of a public official paying for something that didn’t show up.

In an effort to recoup the money on behalf of taxpayers, the attorney general’s office sent out letters to Crum, the former board members who approved the expenditure, as well as Ohio Farmers Insurance and National Fire & Casualty.

National Fire & Casualty has a $500,000 policy on the township, and Ohio Farmers Insurance has a $15,000 surety bond on the township trustee, according to the attorney general’s office.

If they don’t pay within 30 days, the attorney general’s office may file a lawsuit to recover the public funds.

"I’m not happy, not happy," said Linda Gregory, a longtime Sheffield Township taxpayer. "For a small town like this, it’s surprising."