HOBSON CITY, Ala. (AP) — Officials in Hobson City, the first black town incorporated in Alabama more than a century ago, want their own ZIP code.

Hobson City currently shares its ZIP code – 36201 – with Anniston, but Hobson City Mayor Alberta McCrory says the town of less than a thousand residents wants its own postal service identity.

“We need to make sure Hobson City is not lost,” she said. “We were never a part of Anniston, but we are lumped in with them and that is not a good thing for us.”

U.S. Postal Service spokesman Joseph Breckenridge told The Anniston Star in a story Monday that Hobson City’s identity crises has been shared by other small towns.

“When we created ZIP codes, we did it just to serve mail,” Breckenridge said. “But some thought ZIP codes are the same as city boundaries, but they are not, and they get all scrambled up because of the way cities grow. Sometimes some addresses are in the same municipalities but are served by different post offices.”

Originally a part of Oxford, Hobson City was incorporated in 1899 and has struggled financially in recent years due mainly to an insufficient tax base. Some city leaders have said the shared ZIP code is partly to blame.

But Anniston Finance Director Danny McCullars said Hobson City needs to inform its vendors and taxpayers that license fees and local taxes need to be paid.
“It’s not about the ZIP code, it’s about physical location,” he said.

County revenue officials said property tax revenue is paid to municipalities based solely on physical location.

Decades ago, a post office was contracted out to a small Hobson City business called Young’s Grocery, and the memory of that little post office has led some in Hobson City to believe it once had its own ZIP code.

But the Postal Service has no record of the town having a separate ZIP code.

While ZIP codes typically are shown with only five digits, there are four other digits that post offices can use to identify specific residences. Breckenridge said they might help Hobson City.

“We can show them how to drill down and find that information,” he said.