New Grass Valley zip code could benefit Pershing County

After years of discussion, a new Grass Valley ZIP code could be in the works. The change may or may not mean better mail service but it could mean more sales tax revenues for Pershing County, where Grass Valley is located, and less tax revenue for neighboring Humboldt County.

Grass Valley is in the 89445 zip code area that includes Winnemucca, just across the county line in Humboldt County. The rest of Pershing County is split into two zip codes with 89418 designated for the Imlay/Unionville area and 89419 for the Lovelock/Toulon area of the county.

According to retired U.S.Postal Service official Edward Stoddard, ZIP (Zone Improvement Plan) codes make mail delivery easier and more efficient because the mail is sorted according to the delivery sequence for each mail carrier’s route.

Grass Valley Advisory Board member Paul Schler confirmed the Humboldt County zip code means some of the sales taxes on his online and other expenses benefit Humboldt County.

“The question that I’ve got is something that’s been discussed in the past and I’d sort of like an update on it,” he said at a commission meeting. “The zip code for the Grass Valley area.”

Grass Valley Advisory Board Chairman Sean Burke said a new zip code might be worthwhile.

“I think the idea is worth exploring,” he said in an email on Friday. “I understand that having a separate zip code for Grass Valley might help with channelling sales taxes to Pershing County, especially for online sales. I also like the idea of having a unique identity for our residents. Fully understanding the benefits would help us balance with the costs of changing addresses, etc.”

County Commissioner Carol Shank has discussed the idea with Congressman Mark Amodei. A new post office is not required for a new zip code but Congressional action is required, she said.

“I’ve been talking to Amodei about this and they will help us if necessary with legislation,” she said. “They did something similar for Storey County...We don’t have to put a post office in Grass Valley but it’s going to take the Congressman getting involved to make the post office do this.”

In October, Amodei told the Northern Nevada Business View that it took about five years to get a new zip code for the 107,000-acre Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) in Storey County.

“Due to rapid growth and development in Storey County, a new zip code designation for TRIC was necessary to streamline United States Postal Service correspondence for businesses and residents in the area,” Amodei explained. The “unique” zip code “allows Storey County residents to keep their current zip codes while improving opportunities for economic growth,” he added.

Schler believes the loss of tax revenue for Pershing County makes a case for the zip code change. His research indicates that zip code 89443 is not assigned and could be available.

“The fact that the taxes are supposed to be paid to the county for sales and so forth, I think is a strong argument that we do need a separate zip code,” he said. “As I see it, if you put everybody below the county line in zip code 89443, it shouldn’t change any delivery expenses, any carriers or anything else.” 

Shank said she’ll collect the data needed for the proposal including the number of households in Grass Valley and an estimate of the tax revenues lost to Humboldt County.

“What I will provide for Amodei’s office is a rough amount of what we’re losing in sales tax money,” Shank said. “I will give them a best-guess estimate and then they’ll move forward.”

Schler pointed out there are businesses in Grass Valley also providing tax revenues for Humboldt rather than Pershing County. County Commissioner Rob McDougal agreed tax revenues generated in Pershing County should stay in Pershing County.

“Paul’s point about us losing the sales taxes is the most important thing from the county’s point of view besides just the convenience for our residents in the Winnemucca area,” he said.

Schler said he would like his sales tax dollars to benefit his own county.

“For example, I went over to Elko and bought something using my address,” he said. “I ordered it online. My zip code address shows Humboldt County so there’s a loss right there. Somebody running into Lovelock to order something from Lowe’s or something, again that’s revenue lost.”