Postal lessors who are concerned about their investment leased to the Postal Service look to AUSPL for education, training and wise counsel to better manage their post offices. We offer members a unique opportunity to connect with each other, as well as leaders in the postal community.Read More
For over 20 years, AUSPL has specialized in insuring post office buildings, exclusively for AUSPL members. AUSPL Insurance now also offers a companion insurance program known as “Main Street,” designed to provide a mechanism for insuring multi-user buildings in which a post office is located.Read More
Gary Phillips, AUSPL President
Watch for a new standard lease which is in the works to replace all existing leases when they expire. For now, the postal service intends to exercise renewal options and continue your existing lease agreement, but that policy may be subject to change. So, be sure to carefully review all renewal documents. When there are no renewal options, the USPS will expect lessors to sign the new lease forms.
The current standard USPS lease document is decades old. Therefore, when the USPS announced a project to develop a new lease agreement and offered to include AUSPL in the process, we were supportive. The stated goal of the project was to develop a lease agreement that more clearly outlines all of the various responsibilities of the lessor and the tenant (the USPS). AUSPL’s legal team proposed extensive revisions, but the “final” draft lease contained almost none of our language. The new lease clarified lessor responsibilities, but virtually all of the changes benefited the Postal Service. Among the new terms which would have been harmful to lessors were new insurance requirements which would have made qualifying insurance difficult or impossible to obtain, increased environmental liability exposure for lessors, easy USPS lease termination in the event of building damage, the transfer to lessors of many USPS maintenance obligations, and very limited USPS restoration responsibility upon lease termination.
The new lease was distributed to USPS real estate offices for use as early as August 1, 2016. But AUSPL mounted an aggressive campaign to delay implementation and, with a little urging from AUSPL’s friends in Congress, the USPS agreed to delay implementation and revisit AUSPL’s previous comments. The AUSPL team is now back at the negotiating table, and there is progress toward revisions that will make the new standard lease more fair for lessors.
Our experience with the new lease project is yet another example of the fact that, when they stand as one, lessors are a strong force that can influence USPS policy. Collectively, our members own about half of all leased buildings, and the network of leased facilities is vital to the ability of the Postal Service to fulfill its universal service obligation. Be sure to visit auspl.com for updates on the new lease project, Postal reform legislation, educational opportunities, and much more. We appreciate your membership and thank you for your support.
Gary D. Phillips
Join AUSPL in Washington DC, to meet with your Senators and Representatives, or their staff, to educate legislators on the value of the leased facilities program.
AUSPL will provide training for all participants.
Hear speakers from the US Postal Service and Congress, attend educational Workshops, and meet other postal lessors at the Networking Reception.
H.R. 756 has a bipartisan group of cosponsors, including Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA).
H.R. 756 is a comprehensive bill that addresses, among other important matters, the enhancement of USPS solvency through employee benefit reforms and changes in the management and operation of the USPS.
Postal Service benefits reform under the bill would include the reform of the retiree healthcare and benefits system, which has been a source of financial difficulties for the USPS for a decade.
Operational reforms under the bill would include changes in the number of Senate-confirmed members of the USPS Board of Governors, the addition of certain non-postal services, and procedural changes regarding closures and consolidations. When considering a post office for closure H.R. 756 would require the Postal Service to consider additional factors, such as: the distance to the next nearest post office, characteristics of the location such as weather and terrain, and the availability of broadband internet service. Also, communities would be given the opportunity to state their preferences on closing or consolidating a post office, and appeal the closing or consolidation of post office stations and branches.
The US Postal Service Board of Governors No Longer Has Any Presidential Appointees
The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 created the US Postal Service Board of Governors. The Governors on the Board fulfill the constitutional requirement that executive branch entities be run by presidential appointees. The US Postal Service Board of Governors is authorized to have seven Governors appointed by the President in addition to the Postmaster General and the Deputy Postmaster General. For the last few years, the Senate has not approved any of the potential Governors nominated by President Obama. On December 8, 2016 the last of the seven appointees, Mr. James Bilbray, reached the end of the one year extension of his term. What happens when there are no presidential appointees on the Board of Governors?
While the Board of Governors can delegate many things to the Postmaster General, there are items that, by law, only the presidentialy appointed Governors can do. These include, but are not limited to:
■ Appointment, compensation, term of service, and removal of the Postmaster General
■ Compensation of the Deputy Postmaster General
■ Establishment of rates and classes for competitive postal products
■ Authorization of rate and fee changes for market dominant postal products
■ Authorization of a request to the PRC to add, remove, or reclassify products
■ Authorization of a notice to the PRC of substantive changes to product descriptions in the Mail Classification Schedule
■ Appointment and removal of the Inspector General
■ Transmission of the OIG’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress
■ Selection of a firm to conduct required USPS financial audits
On September 28, 2016, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced Senate Bill 3452 (“S. 3452”), titled the “Post Office Discontinuance Accountability Act of 2016.” The Bill is co-sponsored by Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The Bill has been introduced late in the legislative session and will die if it is not passed into law by January 3, 2017. However, it can in such a case be re-introduced in the new Congress next year.
The objective of the Bill is to establish procedures governing “emergency suspensions” of Post Offices by the USPS. Under the Bill, emergency suspensions are defined to be:
[t]emporary discontinuance of a post office without following discontinuance procedures for the post office, because of (1) a natural disaster, (2) the early, sudden, or unexpected termination of a lease or rental agreement by the lessor when suitable alternate quarters are not immediately available in the same community, (3) lack of qualified personnel to operate the post office, (4) severe or irreparable damage to or destruction of, the post office when suitable alternate quarters are not immediately available in the community, (5) a challenge to the sanctity of the mail, or (6) a lack of adequate measures to safeguard the post office or its revenues. [Italics added.]
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