Westover struggles to unite zip codes

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

WESTOVER — The Westover mayor and Town Council are attempting to bring the town together through numbers. Currently four different zip codes exist within the town limits and only one of them belongs to Westover. The other three belong to Sterrett, Harpersville and Wilsonville.

Town Councilmember Larry Riggins said the different codes have been causing problems for the town and the council is attempting to unite the town under one zip code and mailing route.

The problem came up recently during the 2010 census, Riggins said. Since residents report by zip code, Westover will only receive credit for one third of its population. The rest will be credited to neighboring cities, Riggins said.

“We wouldn’t have had so much confusion on the census if we could have taken care of those zip codes years ago,” he said.

The town also misses out on tax revenue because of the codes, Riggins said. Every time a purchase is made and reported under a non-Westover zip code, the tax revenue goes to another town. Riggins said this situation happens often during the building of new houses within the town.

Riggins said he believes changing the zip codes could also save the United States Postal Service money. Mail carriers who deliver to the non-Westover zip codes drive back and forth between Westover and the other cities. By having one route within the town, it would save time, mileage and money, he said.

“There are a lot of woods between Sterrett and Westover,” he said. “I call those pine tree miles. By eliminating the back and forth of all those pine tree miles, it could save them money and relieve some overloaded carriers.”

Nancy Ross, spokesperson of the United States Postal Service, said Westover’s zip code issue is not uncommon. The postal service does not recognize municipality boundaries, only mailing routes.

“We have to set up delivery routes based on straight lines, ease of transit and what makes the most economical sense for us,” Ross said.

Ross said the town of Westover is under mailing route agreements that will not be reevaluated for another five years. At that time, mailing routes may change.

However, mailing routes are often based on job positions and salaries, Ross said. USPS might not open a new mailing route where they would have to hire a new supervisor.

“That saves us money,” Ross said. “That saves us one salary a year. That’s what we’re having to do more and more during this economic climate. It may get worse before it gets better.”