MOUNT VERNON — Sales representatives from postage machine company Pitney Bowes met with the county Board of Commissioners on Monday to propose getting some savings out of modern technology. The company’s district sales manager, Jennifer Rodenburg, and senior area sales executive Andy Rontson developed the plan, which could save the county about $8,000 a year in postage, in coordination with Clerk of Courts Mary Jo Hawkins.
The savings comes from computerized equipment the U.S. Postal Service now has in place which allows for an electronic receipt to show that a person has received and signed for a certified letter. Currently, a paper receipt is signed, collected and returned to the county. The post office has offered a discounted price to Pitney Bowes and its customers who are willing to eliminate the paper receipt in favor of an electronic one.
Hawkins said she and commissioners’ clerk Rochelle Shackle looked into the idea previously because the clerk’s office sends out the majority of the county’s certified letters. They sought approval from the court before presenting the plan formally.
Hawkins said Judge Otho Eyster agreed to accept electronic receipts, provided they were received into the security of the Clerk of Courts’ office. Hawkins and Shackle said they could coordinate the usage of two postage machines in the building; one in the commissioners’ office, another, which would handle the court’s certified letters and receipts, being kept securely in the clerk’s office.
Rodenburg said the electronic option would save the county approximately $8,000 per year, but that another option was also available. Computer hardware and software could be installed which would insert the certified mail receipts directly into the court docket, something that now must be done by physically scanning and attaching the receipts. This equipment would reduce savings to $5,800 per year, but would increase internal efficiency in the office. Rodenburg said Pitney Bowes would offer to fold the cost of the equipment into a five-year lease.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger asked whether there was any incentive for buying the equipment outright instead of leasing it; Rodenburg said there was not. The commissioners decided to go ahead with the first option and to reserve the second option for possible implementation next year.
The Pitney Bowes sales people also said they were looking for a core client in Mount Vernon for their new mail handling service, by which they handle mail sorting for the USPS in exchange for a discounted postal rate for their customers. Rodenburg said the advantage of the program was significant savings, while the drawbacks were that it can add a day to the time mail takes to reach its destination and that the automatic sorting equipment requires computer-generated address labels, not hand-written ones.
An additional drawback is that the county currently outsources printing and envelope stuffing for many items. This program would require those functions to come back in-house. Commissioner Robert Wise asked where the postage sales would be credited if the Pitney Bowes sorting station is in Hilliard, as Rodenburg described. She said all postage sales would go through the Mount Vernon post office. Wise said this was good, because he wanted to make sure any mail-handling plan they consider wouldn’t hurt local jobs.
The commissioners said they will discuss the mail handling option at the next elected officials meeting.