Linda Selkirk’s rental cabin in Sevierville, Tennessee was one of the hundreds of properties lost in the November 2016 Gatlinburg fires that started at the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
The Fairfield Twp. woman and her husband were recently in the process of obtaining a construction loan to rebuild the cabin when the lack of a postal identity prompted questions by the bank.
“There was a discrepancy between my husband’s W2, which listed him in Hamilton, and our federal tax return, which lists us in Fairfield,” said Selkirk. “And the bank wanted to know, ‘Where do you live?’”
It was frustrating trying to go through the rebuilding process, she said.
But that’s not the only problem with Fairfield Twp. not having it’s own postal identity. The township has multiple ZIP codes, which includes Hamilton’s 45011, Fairfield’s 45014 and West Chester Twp.’s 45069.
If the township had its own postal identity, officials say nothing to a resident’s or business’ address would change, but rather the postal office would recognize Fairfield Twp. and not default to one of the other communities associated with the township’s ZIP codes.
But Fairfield Twp. Trustee Shannon Hartkemeyer said such a change could affect a person’s pocketbook when employers take out withholding taxes from a job. The cities of Fairfield and Hamilton collect local income taxes while Fairfield Twp. does not.
Harkemeyer reached out to the United States Postal Service in Cincinnati a few weeks ago to attempt to see if Fairfield Twp. can be an officially listed community.
“We’re Fairfield Twp. and proud to live in Fairfield Twp.,” she said. “Nothing against any of these other communities but we live here in Fairfield Twp.”
USPS spokesman David Van Allen the process is simple but its execution is time-intensive.
The township will need to assemble a list of all of the township addresses for residents and businesses and supply that to the post office.
“The study is a process we have to go through before it could get approval,” said Van Allen.
The study takes about a month and evaluates if it’s feasible to essentially recognize Fairfield Twp. Then it goes through an approval process before it’s accepted or rejected. Sometimes it doesn’t work if it crosses too many zones, Van Allen said.
Fairfield Twp. Trustee President Susan Berding said “it’s important that we have our own identity of Fairfield Twp.,” she didn’t want it to financially affect a resident or business by having to order new stationary with the township listed on the mailing address.
Van Allen said it wouldn’t affect any mailing address, and residents or businesses could still maintain its current community listed even if the township is successful.
The post office would add the township’s name to designated addresses.
It’s uncertain how long it could take the township to assemble all addresses of the community of around 21,400.
If the township is successful in getting the post office to recognize the township in its system, Hartkemeyer said this would work toward “strengthening our community identity.”
And having the community identity on the postal address, Selkirk said, “would make live a little easier to have one mailing address, and to know where you live.”