Henrico postal customers soon will have a mailing address that bears the county's name.
A majority of respondents to a U.S. Postal Service survey voted in favor of changing 11 county mailing addresses from "Richmond" to "Henrico," county officials announced last week. The change will take place at the end of the year.
County officials believe that Henrico has been losing at least $5 million annually in tax revenue that is mistakenly sent to Richmond as a result of the mailing address confusion.
In late April, the U.S. Postal Service sent more than 85,000 surveys to postal customers in 10 "Richmond" ZIP codes that exist entirely within Henrico County, as well as those in the Highland Springs ZIP code. Recipients had until May 10 to respond, and 29,505 did so. Of those, 18,063 - 61 percent - voted in favor of the address change, while 11,442 opposed the change.
The change will make "Henrico" the primary mailing address for postal customers in the following ZIP codes: 23075, 23228, 23229, 23231, 23233, 23238, 23242, 23250, 23255, 23288 and 23294. It also will become an acceptable mailing address for Henrico customers in the following shared ZIP codes: 23222, 23223, 23226, 23227 and 23230.
Customers in each ZIP code may continue to use "Richmond" if they choose to do so.
Deputy County Manager Robert Pinkerton said that county officials were "tickled" by the results.
"We weren't sure what to expect," he said. "We were of the opinion that [the vote] would be close. We were very pleased with the voter 'turnout.'"
Pinkerton and other county officials gave 24 presentations about the issue to civic and community organizations in the weeks leading to the vote. Opinion at each was mixed, he said.
"Some were in areas where people didn't receive ballots [because they lived in split ZIP codes], and they were upset that they weren't part of the process," he said. "Others varied. Some said, 'We think it's ok.'"
"The bottom line to us was $5 million. It was a business decision - there are dollars attached to it."
In a statement, County Manager Virgil Hazelett said the vote was a clear indication that postal customers supported the county's objective to locate its missing tax revenue.
"Henrico residents and businesses have spoken and the county government hears them loud and clear," he said. "They have indicated they want their tax dollars used for their benefit, and we will do everything that we can to make that happen."
Much of the tax confusion occurs when out-of-state companies that do business in Henrico - either through local branches, internet or mail order sales - send their tax payments to the state and record the transactions as having occurred in Richmond, rather than Henrico.
Henrico should begin seeing the benefit of the address change by the end of 2009, Pinkerton said, but it may not realize the full effect for several years after that.
The change will not impact mail delivery service, according to USPS officials, and postal customers will not have to file change-of-address documents or notify anyone of an address change.
Several national businesses with headquarters in Henrico seem unlikely to switch to the "Henrico" mailing address, according to company officials surveyed by the Citizen last week.
The Brink's Company , headquartered in the Forest Office Park (ZIP Code 23226) will continue to use the Richmond name, spokesman Ed Cunningham said, and Altria (based in the 23230 ZIP code) is likely to do so as well, a spokesman told the Citizen.
National retailer Circuit City , based in the 23233 ZIP code, will not change its address, spokesman Jim Babb said in an e-mail to the Citizen.
"Our current 'Richmond, Va.' address reflects the fact that we're a part of the greater Richmond metro area," he said.
Executives at Short Pump Town Center , also located in the 23233 ZIP code, hadn't yet pondered the issue, marketing director Misty Parsons said.
At Richmond International Raceway (in the split ZIP code 23222) officials intend to keep using the Richmond name, spokeswoman Aimee Turner said, though they have the option to use "Henrico."
For in-depth coverage of Henrico County, pick up a copy of Henrico's hometown newspaper - the Henrico Citizen - at Ukrop's, Kroger, Wawa or any Henrico public library, or call (804) 262-1700 to subscribe.