Area post offices under review for change in delivery 2011.06.29

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Changes may be on the horizon for three area post offices, but closure is not currently under consideration.

The post offices at Weston, Clayton and Sand Creek are under review for consolidation of operations, said Edward Moore, a United States Postal Service spokesperson out of the Detroit office, but the retail counters are expected to remain open.

Due to declining mail volume, delivery operations could be moved to other offices—for example, the Adrian office could handle Clayton delivery—but the office itself would remain open for counter sales, Moore said.

“Post offices are part of the community,” Moore said, and efforts will be made to keep offices open when possible. “Currently there are no closures that we’re planning for now.”

During an initial wave of post office closures in 2009, most were in urban areas, but 491 closures last year also targeted many rural locations. Thousands of offices are under review now for changes in services.

“Across the country we’re looking to streamline operations,” Moore said.

At the same time, the goal is keep the inconvenience to customers to a minimum. Moore said communities will be notified of any changes before they go into effect.

Moore said the review process for some communities includes moving post office counter sales to an existing business in the town and closing the post office building.

A recent article in the Washington Post  reported an $8.5 billion loss for the Postal Service in the 2010 fiscal year. First class mail peaked in 2006 at 150 billion pieces, but the volume had declined 20 percent by last year.

In addition to closing offices and  consolidating services, the Postal Service is considering the elimination of Saturday mail delivery.

Cost savings through five-day delivery are in dispute. The Postal Service says the move would trim $3.1 billion annually; the Postal Regulatory Commission (an independent agency providing oversight) says the savings would be closer to $1.4 billion.

The National Newspaper Association is among many groups fighting the Saturday proposal because many papers have Saturday delivery, and eliminating a day would slow the delivery of all papers outside the local area.

Rather than trim services, some legislators are urging the Postal Service to change the structure of the agency and trim costs by reducing “overly generous employee benefits.”

In addition to falling mail revenue and rising costs, the Postal Service faces an extra burden from a Congressional mandate requiring pre-funding of retiree benefits. Starting in 2007, the order added about $5 billion annually to the agency’s budget.

The Postal Service is the only federal agency facing the order to pre-fund retirement.

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