Optimism for the Big Sky Post Office
By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
At the Resort Tax Board meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9, Al Malinowski of Gallatin Partners told the board that the United States Postal Service continues to misunderstand Big Sky’s postal needs, and that he remains hopeful for further communication from the federal organization.
That afternoon, USPS management personnel arrived in Big Sky to meet with Malinowski without advance notice.
“I can’t speak to why the visit was unannounced, but I took advantage of the opportunity to show them the challenges we face at the Big Sky Post Office due to the lack of adequate resources,” Malinowski wrote to EBS on Nov. 22. He said he assumes the USPS will meet to assess next steps and that he’s optimistic that further discussion will include the possibility of extending the deadline—from Feb. 28, 2023—to operate inside the existing post office, “provided USPS is committed to working on a long-term solution.”
According to Malinowski, a long-term solution should include “strong consideration” of relocating to the building in construction beside Little Coyote Road which has been designed to potentially accommodate a post office.
Malinowski also dismissed rumors that the Little Coyote Road building is officially set to accommodate a relocated post office. No such plans have been confirmed.
In early October, Gallatin Partners announced they would terminate their contract with USPS—the Big Sky Post Office is operated by Gallatin Partners on a contract basis, not by USPS—as a drastic step in the longstanding effort to prove the Big Sky community’s need for a larger space and access to federal resources.
Malinowski said the recent USPS visit represents “a positive step,” but he has not had any follow-up discussion since.
On Monday, Nov. 7, more than one month after the initial announcement in Big Sky, a USPS press release announced that the federal postal agency will suspend its service effective March 1. The release stated, “we are willing to work with local businesses in the area to explore viable options for another [Contract Postal Unit].”
Malinowski spoke about the press release in the Nov. 9 BSRAD meeting. He said the Big Sky community has grown beyond the capacity that can be handled by a CPU and such a contract would create risk without any associated reward. The BSRAD board also pointed out a misleading statement from the release:
“The Postal Service generally receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations,” the release stated.
Big Sky Resort Tax partially funded the Big Sky Post Office until March of 2022, when USPS fulfilled a $547,000 request for full-funding. In order to move to a larger space, however, Gallatin Partners would likely require further resort tax assistance.
‘Located at the Big Sky Resort’
On Nov. 7, the original USPS press release referred to the Big Sky Post Office as “the CPU located at the Big Sky Resort.”
On Nov. 8, USPS Strategic Communications Specialist Lecia Hall corrected the press release.
This change followed a phone call with EBS, asking Hall to explain why USPS was referring to the year-round Big Sky community’s post office by the name of a nearby seasonal resort.
Hall said her understanding was that the post office was “located in the Big Sky Resort,” and she apologized for the mistake. The Big Sky Post Office is located roughly 7 miles by road from the resort.
On Nov. 9, Malinowski told the board that “what we are here is not understood.”
After the unexpected meeting with management personnel which followed shortly thereafter, Malinowski believes USPS may have a better understanding.
“I am hopeful that seeing our lack of sufficient space will assist the USPS in concluding that they need to dedicate time to working with us on a long-term solution,” he wrote.