For months the news has been reporting that the postal service is struggling, and is trying to find ways to save its existence.
According to a press release from the United States Postal Service (USPS), it announced a new strategy that could keep the nation’s smallest post offices open for business while providing a framework to achieve significant cost savings as part of the plan to return the organization to financial stability.
Since Gordon County is a rural community, questions have arose on what will happen to the county’s local post offices.
Under the new proposed plan the USPS has announced the offices that will be affected in the community of Ranger, Oakman, Plainville and Sugar Valley, which will see these offices going from eight hours of operation to a proposed four hours.
These new strategies are for the purpose of trying to fix the deficit facing the USPS, which in hope that these attempts will minimize cost of operation and still keep these offices open.
The new strategy would be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014. Once implementation is completed, the USPS estimates savings of a half billion dollars annually, according to the press release.
The USPS is trying to maintain the existing offices, which would save as many jobs as possible for them.
The plan would keep the existing post offices in place, but with modified retail window hours to match customer use. The press release also says access to the retail lobby and to PO Boxes would remain unchanged, and the town’s zipcode and community identity would be retained.
“Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and will always be, a top priority. We continue to balance that by better aligning service options with customer demand and reducing the cost to serve,” said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe. “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. We believe today’s announcement will serve our customers’ needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability.”
The USPS will provide an opportunity for the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to review this plan prior to making any changes. The Postal Service intends to file a request for an advisory opinion on the plan with the PRC.
Community meetings would then be conducted to review options in greater detail. Communities will be notified by mail of the date, time and location of these meetings.
“The post offices in rural America will remain open unless a community has a strong preference for one of the other options. We will not close any of these rural post offices without having provided a viable solution,” said Megan Brennan, postal service chief operating officer.
This new option complements existing alternatives, which include: Providing mail delivery service to residents and businesses in the affected community by either rural carrier or highway contract route contracting with a local business to create a village post office and offering service from a nearby post office.
According to the USPS website, village post offices are operated by community businesses to provide selected postal products and services, including Forever stamps and Priority Mail Flat Rate packages and envelopes. These retail units may also provide post office boxes either inside or outside the business.
“The postal service is committed to serving America’s communities and providing a responsible and fair approach for our employees and customers,” said Brennan.
This strategy would enable a town to possibly have a post office with modified hours, as well as a village post office. The press release also said the postal service has implemented a voluntary suspension on all postal facility closings through May 15. No closings or changes to post office operations will occur until after that time.
In addition to maintaining a retail network of more than 31,000 post offices, the postal service also provides online access to postal products and services through usps.com and more than 70,000 alternate access locations, according to the press release.
The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
Nearly 40 percent of postal retail revenue comes from purchases on usps.com and through approved postal providers such as Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Costco, and many others, according to the press release.
For more information, visit the website about.usps.com.