CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cuyahoga County could save up to $500,000 a year if state law no longer required the government to send notices by certified mail.
The state lists 27 instances when certified mail notification is currently required by law. They include notices sent by government agencies and boards, including the auditor's office, board of revision and board of elections. See the list below or click here on a mobile device.
Proposed legislation would allow state agencies, local governments, and certain boards, commissions, and officers deliver notices by regular mail, email or other internet communication.
How would this work?
What is certified mail?
Certified mail requires the signature of the addressee before they can receive and open the mail. The U.S. Postal Service certified mail rate ranges from $4.61 to $6.59 for a 1-ounce letter.
According to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission analysis of the bill, Cuyahoga County estimates that approximately 85 percent of all required certified mail deliveries return unclaimed or undeliverable in a typical year.
At an average cost of $5 per mailing, the cost adds up to an estimated $500,000.
What's Cuyahoga County's stance?
Shelley Davis, administrator of the Cuyahoga County Board of Revision, testified Feb. 16 before the committee. She said current requirements are obsolete.
"This language has been in effect for at least 37-plus years; back in the day when electric typewriters and carbon paper were considered the 'new technologies' of the day," she said. Today there are so many effective ways to reach the taxpayer which don't involve certified mail."
The board is required to send hearing and decision notices by certified mail and to all parties named in an appeal. Boards of education receive certified mail for complaints filed within their school district.
The board of revision has spent more than $1.5 million on certified mail for the last eight years, she said. It also sends the same notices by regular mail because of the unreliability of certified mail. She said 60 to 70 percent of the certified mail is returned undeliverable.
What do legislators say?
Hambley testified that while essential communication or notices of government action must be delivered "in a timely and reliable manner," it is time to lower the cost.
The bill was developed after two years of discussions between members of the Ohio Council of County Officials, the County Commissioners Association and the Ohio Township Association.
The legislation "would allow government agencies under certain circumstances to utilize the benefits of 21st century communication technology rather than rely primarily upon the certified mail services introduced by the United States Postal Service in 1955," Hambley said.
The language in the new legislation was taken from a section of state law detailing how to notify sex abuse victims that their abusers have changed residency, he said.
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