ZIP code survey shows delivery, tax problems
July 3, 2009
By Jim Feehan
A recent survey conducted by the city reveals residents overwhelmingly want a unique ZIP code and say it would better establish the city’s identity.
About 400 people participated in the survey last month. Ninety-eight percent of the respondents answered yes when asked if they support the city’s efforts to acquire its own ZIP code; 95 percent said it would better establish the city’s identity.
Since the city incorporated in 1994, the U.S. Postal Service has twice denied it its own ZIP code. Newcastle has two ZIP codes that are assigned to Renton — 98056 and 98059.
“This is a more thorough and detailed presentation we will be presenting to the Postal Service,” said City Manager John Starbard. “This is not about vanity. This is complicating people’s lives.”
The survey also asked residents to list problems associated with shared ZIP codes. Fifty-two percent of the respondents said they had delayed or misdelivered packages.
“This should be important to the post office, because they’re always concerned about the accurate and speedy delivery of mail,” said Doug Alder, city spokesman. “When more than half of the people in the survey had package and letter delivery problems, that says a lot.”
About 50 percent of respondents said they had difficulty with taxi or airport services; 29 percent discovered they were paying Renton utility tax; 91 percent said that when doing business by phone, merchants said they lived in Renton; and 45 percent said they need to change their home shopping or home delivery routine.
City officials say some computers don’t recognize Newcastle addresses and that the city is losing sales tax revenue to Renton. When out-of-town or out-of-state deliveries are shipped to Newcastle, many companies use only the five-digit ZIP codes to forward sales tax dollars instead of using the complete street address.
Newcastle will present its case for a unique ZIP code to the Seattle office later this month, Alder said. If the Seattle office rejects the request, the city can appeal to the federal level.
“Hopefully, we’ll get it this time,” he said.