By Kevin M. Smith

Killeen Daily Herald

The city of Killeen may have reached a solution on the issue of mailboxes – or lack thereof.

The council, during its workshop Tuesday, gave consensus for city staff to draft a resolution that would allow the city manager to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to purchase and install cluster box units.

City Planning Director Andrew Allemand said the deal was struck at a February meeting with developers, residents, city staff and post office representatives. The proposal is for the city to act in an "intermediary coordinating role" and provide residents the ability to obtain missing CBUs, Allemand told the council.

The CBUs, which have 16 mailboxes each, cost $1,280 including the box, cost of labor and concrete slab.

The issue first came to the council in March 2007 when residents of new subdivisions complained they had to go to the post office to pick up their mail because there was no mailbox.

Jeff Davis, Killeen postmaster, explained it is the postal service's policy to use cluster box units and it is not the responsibility for the local post office to install those, although it had been doing so.

The developers refused to foot the bill.

On June 26, 2007, the council approved an ordinance mandating developers pay for and install the boxes in new subdivisions.

"That ordinance, itself, is working very well," Allemand told the council Tuesday.

But the ordinance, by law, cannot apply to subdivisions platted before the ordinance was approved. Developers and the post office did not reach an agreement about who would pay for those boxes.

"So what we've got is a stalemate," Allemand said.

At a council workshop in February, Mayor Timothy Hancock asked for all parties involved – developers, the post office, residents and city staff – to meet to come to a resolution. Allemand said that meeting was Feb. 19. He said residents would be willing to pay about $80 each to the city to provide the boxes.

"They did indicate they would be willing to pay that fee if they got a receptacle closer than the post office," Allemand said.

Allemand did note that the dispute is a civil matter.

"This has nothing to do with the city except they live in the city," Allemand said.

He said this is a goodwill gesture.

"It's just something the city is trying to do to get them mail service," Allemand said.

City Attorney Kathy Davis said it is legal as long as the council determines that the funds spent benefit the public. Allemand said it is not clear where the funds will come from to pay for the initial costs, but likely would be the contingency fund.

"We've got the money to do it," Allemand said in an interview.

He added that it will be financially feasible only if the residents reimburse the city.

The council gave unanimous consensus to move forward with a resolution and is expected to vote on that at the next meeting. Council members expressed satisfaction that residents will get their mail.

"I think this is a good solution and I support it," Councilman Kenny Wells said in the workshop.

Councilman Juan Rivera concurred.

"I think it's a win-win situation," Rivera said. "We're not going to do nothing going around in circles."

Councilman Billy Workman also said he supports it "as long as there's not going to be any additional cost or manpower for the city."

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