Facing a $3 billion deficit, the U.S. Postal Service is cutting work hours, raising postal rates and asking Congress for permission to reduce its six-day delivery schedule and alter how it pays for retirees’ health benefits.
So why then is it purchasing million-dollar homes from its employees?
According to an eye-opening CNN report, the Postal Service purchased 1,022 homes during the past two years from employees who were ordered to relocate. The average cost of those homes was nearly $258,000, but the agency bought 14 homes at between $1 million and $2.8 million.
Just last month, the Postal Service bought a $1.2 million home outside Columbia, S.C., from Lexington postmaster Ronald Hopson, who relocated to Carrrollton, Texas, to be that branch’s customer service manager. The 8,400-square-foot home, complete with an indoor swimming pool, sits on fiveÂ acres.
With the housing market in steep decline, the Postal Service has been losing money on the homes when they’re resold, agency spokesman Greg Frey said. The average loss for each home sold in 2007 was $50,542; that increased to $58,397 for each home sold in 2008.
As the CNN report notes, many companies and some federal agencies purchase homes from employees who are relocating. But with the Postal Service facing mounting financial pressures, purchasing million dollar homes has raised eyebrows.
Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the department’s inspector general to investigate. Stay tuned.