The threat of closing small rural post offices was addressed Wednesday, May 9 by the United States Postal Service (USPS).
The plan aims at preserving rural post offices by cutting back on hours of over the counter sales and services.
The afternoon of May 9 a list of rural post offices facing cuts in service hours across the nation was posted at www.usps.com.
Not listed were Forks Post Office and Neah Bay Post Office.
On the list were: Beaver/98305 (8 hours cut to 6 hours), Clallam Bay/98305 (8 to 6), Sekiu/98381 (8 to 4), LaPush/98350 (8 to 4) and Joyce/98343 (8 to 4).
A voluntary early retirement incentive for the nation’s more than 21,000 non-executive postmasters was also announced.
A statement from USPS posted at www.usps.com said that while the number of hours a clerk would be selling stamps and taking packages could be reduced, “Access to the retail lobby and to PO Boxes would remain unchanged, and the town’s ZIP Code and community identity would be retained.” The statement quoted Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe.
“Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and will always be, a top priority,” Donahoe said. “We continue to balance that by better aligning service options with customer demand and reducing the cost to serve. With that said, we’ve listened to our customers in rural America and we’ve heard them loud and clear – they want to keep their Post Office open…”
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is to review the new plan before any changes to the hours of operation are made.
The new strategy would be implemented, the press release states, over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014. Once implementation is completed, the Postal Service estimates savings of a half billion dollars annually.
The USPS statement said a survey was conducted in February and showed that 54 percent of rural customers would prefer cutting hours of sales and service to maintain a local post office. Twenty percent preferred setting up a “Village Post Office,” that is one inside a retail, non-USPS business. Some 15 percent preferred consolidating their post office with a nearby Post Office, and 11 percent wanted to expand rural delivery as the solution.