Sykesville Post Office – quotes from the meeting

by Jack White on November 24, 2012

Here are some quotes about the post office from the recent town council meeting. Mostly these are quotes from town government officials, mainly the mayor, but I did include some citizen input. Some of the people who spoke asked very good questions, many expressed their strong desire, and some their need, to have a post office in town, and many spoke well of the former employees of the post office.

Many defended Jean Maher, also, and expressed their belief that she was publicly humiliated and that the town government acted with too much haste.

As one put it, “The people who are here are really here as character witnesses to Jean and that they not only like having the post office, but like our particular post office and the way it has been staffed. So I think that ought to mean something, and I would just ask you, all of you, to think of that.”

But I’m mainly concerned here with capturing the town government’s response to the input they received at the meeting. Hopefully, when I have more time, I can tell more of what the people said.

Joe Murri – citizen
Did you take any action to try to call a meeting by your council to try to address this issue prior to this meeting?

Mayor Miller
No.

Joe Murri
How many of you on the board actually saw the physical event that took place at the Fall festival? (He asked for a show of hands.)

No one raised their hands. No one on the town government witnessed the event. Nor did anyone deny that there was some sort of event, as reported in the Carroll County Times, or that this event led to the firing of Jean Maher.

Jack White (me)
I asked when the next council meeting would be and if they would address the post office specifically at that meeting.

Mayor
Well, yeah, the council has to consider some ideas on this and I don’t think they have. The Main Street Association has some ideas on this that we haven’t heard yet. I think there’s going to be a visitors center. In what form right now, we don’t have staff, so to sit here and throw things out and say, you know, what are we going to do right now, this isn’t a quick fix solution, this is a solution where we have to decide what direction we’re going to go in.

I’m not opposed to a working session with the public involved and the council can decide that. (The working session will take place 6:00 Monday, the 26th.)

I know the desire is to have the services. It’s really going to be about what is going to be the most practical and budget-conscious way to proceed at this point. So that’s what needs to be figured out.

Mayor
This is called a contract post office and it’s not really run by the United States Post Office. The employees are employees of the town.

Mayor
It had to be locked up. There’s no staff to run it, whatever you want to call that.

Jack White
Are there any circumstances under which the current staff might return?

Mayor
Not that I’m aware of.

Mayor
It is a personnel issue. I don’t expect the public to really buy off on that, because we can’t discuss it, we can’t defend the decision, I can’t discuss justification. I realize that the public what they see is a customer facing business and all believe the women have performed an exemplary job over there. I’m not here to question that. So there’s not much I can say. I understand the desire of the public. I am not unaware.

Councilman Ian Shaw
We had no intention of closing. So while they’re supporting maybe their manager, what have you, at the same time they’re really doing a total disservice to the long term viability of that institution and to all of its supporters who count on that service every day. We were hoping to work through that process, you know, to find something. I feel a little bit disappointed about the way that went down, too. You want to support if you can, but you should still keep the thing going. At our most critical time, at the holiday season, I think it may have signed the death warrant for that post office by doing that.

Mayor
I don’t think anyone’s made secret that some council members, because of budgetary reasons, thought there would be ways we could provide the service without having the town subsidize it. That’s not the same as saying we want to get rid of it. That’s saying we would like to provide the service in another form. I think you have to be fair when you say, “oh, you want to get rid of the post office.” I really don’t think that’s an accurate statement.

Mayor
For the public to make an assessment of the termination without knowing the details, it just can’t be done. And I don’t expect you to make that kind of assessment and try and understand what happened, because I can’t talk about it. I wish I could and provide some material to you, but I can’t. Judging how it was done or why it was done, you can’t really fairly do that.

Citizen
I’m wondering if this isn’t a way around closing this post office and taking the money and putting it back in the budget.

Mayor
That’s sheer speculation, sir. I’ll say, no, but me saying that, I don’t think is going to convince you.

Councilman Leo Keenan
As recently as two months ago, we had tasked the Main Street program to look at ways to make the post office more viable. And we actually met with Jean and some of the other post office members to discuss other options. To rent the upper space more. To find other ways to bring more revenue into the post office. That’s an ongoing process to make the post office more revenue neutral.

Councilman Frank Robert
It’s funded till July first of next year.

Councilman Chris True (responding to a question as to what percentage of the budget the post office represents. Also, this might have been Al Grasley. I have an audio recording.)

I don’t know the percentage, but it runs to around $20,000, $30,000 a year.

Citizen
Your Facebook response was lacking.

Mayor
I thought a lot of the comments [on Facebook] were lacking and inappropriate.

Citizen
But as mayor…

Mayor (speaking over her)
I’m not going to get into that. I appreciate your comment.

Councilman Frank Robert
The post office is funded till July 1, 2013. So there’s no vote to say let’s not fund it for the rest of the year.

Councilwoman Julia Betz
I know it’s been thrown around that this was a budget issue, and yes we’ve been talking about it in past budgets, but we had no idea that those three ladies were going to walk out when Jean was released. So if it were a budget issue, they would still be employed, we’d still be paying them. That’s what people need to understand, unless you think we had hoped that they would walk out. We had no way of knowing that, so I would like to dispel that whole issue.

Related Stories:

Another Letter on Closing the Post Office

Maturity Prevails in Sykesville as Council Meets over Post Office Closing

Town Council Meeting Tonight – Post Office Not on Official Agenda

“You online posters are such babies” – Sykesville Mayor Mike Miller

Letter from the Sykesville Post Office Ladies

Articles from other sources:

Sykesville post office closed after manager fired, others resign - Kelcie Pegher, Carroll County Times

Sykesville residents plan to talk about future of post office - Kelcie Pegher, Carroll County Times

Sykesville’s Town Council discusses future of post office - Kelcie Pegher, Carroll County Times

Manager’s dismissal has Sykesville residents worried about fate of post office - Bob Allen, Explore Carroll

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Moltz November 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm

I would like to add my comments to this discussion.

Most, actually all, of the people, to the best of my knowledge, that spoke up against Jean Maher’s release have no idea what goes on behind the scenes in our town. They see what they see but don’t get the full picture because they are not involved. To the best of my knowledge, none of the people that spoke up serve on any town committees. If they did they would know what actually transpired in this matter, not what the newspaper published. If you want to know what is really going on, you need to get involved. Coming to a Council meeting only when a topic interests you is not getting involved. At the last election, I ran for council member. I was dismayed to see that out of about 2500 eligible registered voters, less than 250 turned out to vote. A meager 10%. I wonder how many of the people that complained at the last council meeting actually voted in the last election.

As a member of the Economic Development Committee (EDC) and the Promotions Committee, as well as being on the Historic District commission, I get to see what those that don’t get involved don’t see. Based on what I have been witness to, I think the Town Government was totally justified in their actions. I am sorry that the other ladies quit. I think Kathy would have been a good choice to replace Jean Maher. As Mayor Miller stated, this is an internal personnel matter that can’t be discussed outside of the town government. If this had happened to you, would you want all the world knowing all the gritty details? I think not. Don’t ask me to tell you what I know because I won’t.

The EDC has been charged with trying to find ways to make the Post Office budget neutral, not ways to close it. We want the Post Office as much as anyone, but it is costing money that can be better used elsewhere. Again, we don’t want to close it, we want to make it more viable and cost effective. Something else to keep in mind, according to surveys done by many others, our Sykesville Post Office is the only Contract Post Office in the entire country that is funded by a town Government. That should speak volumes about how much our town Government wants to support the needs and desires of our residents. If you were involved you’d know this.

We on the EDC plan to present several recommendations to the Town Council on Monday night to keep the Post Office going and provide at least the same level of service it has in the past. There are several good suggestions being presented. Be at the meeting to find out what the new proposals are.

Connie McKay posted a letter to the Carroll County Times and she stated that the Post Office earns income. Yes it did but she didn’t mention that the expense to operate it was much greater than the income generated. It has always operated at a loss. If you ran a business that lost money for ten years, would you want to keep it going? I wouldn’t.

My two cents worth as an involved Sykesville resident.

Jack White November 24, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Thanks, Joe. We’re interested in all aspects of the story. My own involvement in the town is in providing an outlet for this sort of discussion and writing stories to help people know a bit more about the town we live in, and in particular its history.

It’s true not many people vote, and maybe don’t care, but I do. Come to think of it, I may have voted for you.

JW

Patrick Boline November 24, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I attended the recent town council meeting, and I always vote (local, state, and federal). I think it’s important to note the following: the service provided by our local post office and visitor center is an integral part of what makes Sykesville a great small town. Although budgetary matters are always a concern for any small town–especially in these tough economic times–I would like to point out that the U.S. Postal Service has been operating in the red since its inception. It’s not about making a profit; it’s about providing a service that the citizens require. Those who showed up for the town council meeting were by and large a cross-section of people who absolutely count on the service provided by our small-town post office. They came to rely on the folks who had been providing full-fledged, reliable, and friendly service to Sykesville for the past 10 years. In light of the recent town newsletter that trumpeted Sykesville’s extra cashflow right now (i.e., over $700,000 in the black), my great hope is that the Town Council will do whatever it takes to reopen the post office and visitor center and continue to provide a service that most every Sykesville citizen really does appreciate.

Jack White November 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Hello Patrick,
Thanks for the nicely written comment. I hope you’ll be at the next meeting on Monday and bring your friends.
JW

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