Several area post offices slated for hours reduction 2012.06.06

Written by David Green.

postal.hoursThe Weston Post Office has escaped the United States Postal Service (USPS) closure list, but instead faces the prospect of reduced hours—a big reduction in hours.

Nearly 13,000 post offices nationwide are scheduled for reduced hours, including nearly 40 percent of the offices in Michigan and Ohio (see chart).

In Weston’s case, the reduction in hours isn’t much above closure, with window hours scheduled to change from six a day to only two. No other post office in the area is scheduled for two-hour-a-day operation. Access to post office boxes will remain the same even if window service is curtailed, according to a press release by the USPS.

Previous plans by the USPS called for the closure of 3,600 offices, but last month the agency announced a new Post Office Structuring plan to instead reduce hours rather than close.

The Postal Service claims that about half a billion dollars will be saved through the plan, but critics point out that the figure doesn’t include the loss in revenue expected through reduced hours.

A large portion of the savings will come by replacing many small-office postmasters with part-time workers who earn far less pay. A voluntary early retirement incentive is in effect for postmasters and similar buyouts are now in place for mail handlers.

Pam Thomas, Weston’s officer in charge, was told that the changes will not occur for at least 90 days and a community meeting is supposed to precede any changes.

At a previous community meeting, the possibility of closure was discussed. The Postal Service continues a nationwide effort to explore contracting with local businesses to create a “village post office” in small towns, but in Weston the only business is the tavern.

Thomas said Postal Service representatives suggested constructing a set of outdoor customer boxes, such as those seen in some subdivisions, but then decided there wasn’t a space for them.

The Postal Service also explores the possibility of offering delivery service in a small town by rural carrier, and Thomas said a few of her customers have chosen that route. They have put up mailboxes by the road and get delivery from Sand Creek’s carrier.

Ironically, she said, that also results in a loss of revenue for the Postal Service since those customers no longer pay a rental fee for a post office box and now receive free rural delivery.

Postal customers in Weston and all other post offices affected by hour reductions should receive a notice in the mail announcing a community meeting.

The Postal Service also intends to close several large mail processing centers, a move that will slow the delivery of over-night mail.

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