Postal service looks to reduce hours at rural post offices

People with zip codes at some of the smaller post offices around Madison County recently received a survey and letter from the U.S. Postal Service asking for input on future changes to their post office.

Rural Post OfficeThe letter and survey are part of an ongoing plan by the USPS to remake rural post offices in an effort to save money.

The plan is officially called the Post Plan and it will reduce hours at many post offices around the country, including eight in Madison County.

The post plan is the USPS response to the negative reaction last year when they proposed closing many of the same post offices.

“Closing (post offices) right now is basically off the board unless it was an unusual situation,” said USPS spokesman Pete Nowacki in Minneapolis.

The Post Plan was unveiled in May and now the USPS is looking for feedback on the levels of change people are willing to see at their local post offices.

The survey sent out to Cameron Post Office customers, for instance, asked them to indicate which of four options they prefer: reducing weekday window service hours to four hours, a study to look at closing the post office and providing service through rural mail carriers, study closing the post office and finding a suitable alternative location that would be operated by a contractor, or study closing the post office and relocating services to the nearest post office.

“What we’re finding is that in most of these communities people are telling us their preference is keeping these offices open with reduced windows hours,” Nowacki said.

In Madison County, post offices in Alder, Cameron, Harrison, Norris, Pony, Virginia City and Melrose are all slated to be reduced in hours of operation to four hours a day. The hours or operation for post office in McAllister may be cut from eight to six hours a day.

The fact is the USPS is losing business as more people conduct business over the Internet, Nowacki said.

“Our mail volumes have been falling and a lot of that volume is stuff we’re never going to see come back,” he said.

The Post Plan is slated to save the USPS about $500 million, Nowacki said.

Along with the survey, the USPS is scheduling public meetings at local post offices to discuss the changes. A public meeting at the Cameron Post Office is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 5 p.m.

For times and dates of more public meetings, please check with your local post office.

 

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