Complaints Pour In To Douglas City Officials Over Problems At Local Post Office
Complaints from residents about the Douglas branch of the U.S. Postal Service are numerous and varied—packages not delivered; mail sorting not completed until late in the day; investment information not received; mail put in the wrong P.O. boxes, including military absentee ballots that, as a consequence, remain uncounted for as of November 15, 2016; and so on.
Douglas City Clerk Jeanie Neve wrote the list, gathered from residents coming into city hall to complain. She presented it to the Douglas City Council during Monday night’s meeting where it was an agenda item.
The Douglas Post Office does not provide home delivery service to homes, instead every Douglas address has a corresponding P.O. box with its own number.
The level of service drastically declined, say city officials and resident complaints, when Brian Hilaski was hired as the new postmaster in August, replacing former Postmaster Joseph P. Dornak.
Also, immediately following Hilaski’s hiring, Douglas Postal Worker Kathy Herbert sustained serious leg injuries when she accidentally fell and is temporarily unable to work.
City officials say they, too, have been affected by what they characterize as the recent unacceptable service.
“My bill came in two weeks after it was due,” said Douglas Mayor Jim Wiley. “I don’t think the service has been improving fast enough.”
He said he complained to Douglas Postmaster Hilaski about it, and, “He (Hilaski) said that, ‘If the mail doesn’t have the P.O. box number, we are going to send it back.’”
Hilaski, previously the postmaster at the Grand Haven Post Office, was surprised by the grievances when he spoke to The Local Observer on Tuesday about the myriad complaints.
“Every single piece of mail in this office is done every single day, so I don’t know why they are saying that,” responded Hilaski.
Nevertheless, Hilaski did go on to concede service may have been slower at the beginning of his new position due to the learning curve: he said he is becoming more acquainted with Douglas addresses so as to more efficiently match them with the proper P.O. box number (box service is a new system for him, as bigger municipalities have home delivery, he noted).
Another reason for the complaints, he contended, “I changed things to move to (federal) regulation; some people may not be happy about it.”
Thus, he says all customers who signed Form 1093 when they first got their box assigned, ought to take responsibility for making sure all mail delivered to them—no matter from where and who—must show their assigned P.O. box number.
“When I first got here, 50 percent of the mail did not have a P.O. box on them,” said Hilaski.
The box policy reads: “We deliver to your P.O. box address as printed on your mail, so be sure to provide correct and current address information to your correspondents.
“Your P.O. box number should appear on a seperate line, followed by the post office’s city, state, and ZIP+4. When we assign your box number, we will provide the corresponding ZIP+4 code.”
In yet another enforcement of federal regulations, Hilaski said his office is now charging customers for premium forwarding—all mail is forwarded to a specific location, (e.g., Florida, from the Douglas Post Office locale— at $18 per week with regular forwarding, consisting of first class mail, will continue to be free).
Notwithstanding the issues, Hilaski and city officials say they will hold discussions to come up ways to smooth out the wrinkles.