Indian Hills post office affected by national building freeze |

Indian Hills post office affected by national building freeze

R-C News Service

A proposed Indian Hills post office is the victim of a nationwide building freeze by the U.S. Postal Service because it is $2 billion to $3 billion in debt.

The Sage View Station was one of 11 projects scheduled to be built in Nevada in 2001.

“We were in the process of trying to secure the site when the freeze hit,” said Postal Service spokeswoman Teresa Rudkin. “When the freeze is off, we are probably going to have to start over again because property is going fast.”

Two post offices in Reno and one in Incline Village also are on the freeze list in Northern Nevada. The rest are in Southern Nevada.

The announcement Thursday was accompanied by a warning from the postal governing board that regular service could be in danger without changes to the laws that regulate operation.

More than 800 planned projects in all states will be affected by the freeze. Postal officials didn’t provide a dollar estimate for the affected work.

While first-class mail went up a penny to 34 cents in January, several increases in other types of mail that had been sought by the agency were rejected or trimmed by the independent Postal Rate Commission.

With rising costs, postal officials now say they face a $2 billion to $3 billion loss this fiscal year. They are planning to apply this summer for another rate increase to take effect next year.

After five years in the black, the post office had a $199 million loss last fiscal year.

Among the problems cited by the Postal Service are wage rate increases that exceed the rate of inflation, escalating fuel costs, changes in the type of mail being processed, a communications marketplace marked by increased competition and forecasts calling for the diversion of some first-class mail to electronic alternatives.

The construction and leasing freeze affects facilities that the agency has made commitments to but where construction has not yet begun.

”All new construction, new leasing and expansion planned for 2001 is frozen,” postal spokeswoman Judy de Torok said.

The projects already under way won’t be halted, she added, and a few planned projects will continue if needed for health and safety reasons.

Meanwhile, the universal service that Americans take for granted could be in jeopardy unless laws regulating operations are changed, said the postal governing board.

”Regrettably, our call for an additional rate increase, following so soon after the last one, reflects the fact that the 30-year-old statutory model that governs the Postal Service is in need of change to protect universal service at affordable rates,” said board chairman Robert F. Rider.

For the past several years postal leaders have sought changes in the law to give them more flexibility in changing rates and services to cope with rising costs and changes in competition. Under current rules it takes nearly a year to change rates.

Northern Nevada Post Office projects halted:

— Minden, Sage View Station, 89423

— Crystal Bay, Incline Village branch, 89450

— Reno, Sierra Station, 89506

— Reno, Washington Station, 89503