WEBSTER COUNTY, KY (11/21/12) – A year ago the Postmaster General said he planned to close half of the country’s 32,000 post offices over the next few years. In the twelve months since, things have changed, but many of the people affected by the change might not be a lot happier. 5,600 offices nationwide have been under review this fall for reduced hours. How the hours break down depends almost entirely on the office’s over the counter sales.
In Webster County Slaughters, Poole and Wheatcroft Post Offices were all effected by the changes.
At the Slaughter’s Post Office Community Meeting on Thursday, Sandra Mosley, the Post Master at Sturgis and the Area 2 Duo Coordinator broke down the information for residents.
“There is no danger of closing Slaughters,” she told the gather public.
Out of 726 Customer Survey’s mailed to people in the Slaughters area, 285 were returned. Ninety-four percent of those voting chose to keep the post office open and realign the hours over the other options, which were a Village Post Office, use of a Nearby Post Office or different delivery options.
“You’re only going to miss out of a half hour of window time,” Mosley said. “Instead open at 8:30 she’ll open at 9:30 and only take a half hour lunch (12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.). Then the office will close at 4:00 p.m.”
The changes will go into effect on March 23.
She also said that the hours will be reevaluated every October, and if usage goes up the post office could return to regular hours.
Where the figures get confusing is what business actually counts when it comes to keeping the post office open. The USPS only looked at over the counter traffic when it came to making the decision. That includes the sales of postage stamps, paying for postage on packages at the window and renting P.O. Boxes.
The list of things that don’t count is much longer. Local post office expenses didn’t count against them, but although the reassignment of Slaughters’ postal carriers to Sebree saves the USPS money, it doesn’t benefit the Slaughters Post Office. The money from stamps printed from a home or business postage meter goes to the post office, but it does not count towards keeping the office open.
“Last year I was the one going around telling everyone that we were going to close their offices,” Mosley said. “Every office I went to last year, I’ve gone back and told them no we’re not. I’m still holding out that congress is going to do something.”
Mosley said that in Indiana every office had a congressman or senator, or a representative of them, on hand, but in Kentucky she hasn’t seen any.
“If we wrote letters to our congressmen or senators, what would we ask them to do?” asked Slaughters resident Daisy Rocha.
“In 2006, they signed into law that (the USPS) is mandated to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees,” Mosley said. “So for 75 years worth of retirees, we had to find their retirement in ten years. No one else in business or government had to do that. And we’re doing that to the tune of about $5.5 billion a year.”
Mosley said there are good things and bad things about the plan to save post office, but the postal service had to do something. The reduced hours will allow the smaller rural communities to keep at least part of a post office.
“This just makes us aware that buying our stamps here is going to help,” said Mayor Jeff Coomes. “We need to pass that along to our neighbors. Whenever you buy stamps, support your home town.”
Mayor Coomes also questioned the city’s postal permit, which allows the City of Slaughters to write one check to cover postage on water bills.
“It's better than a meter, but it still doesn’t count like buying a stamp,” Mosley said.
“We might need to work out something else,” Coomes said. “It might be worthwhile to help our local post office.”
Residents of Poole have already been told that their Post Office will be cutting back to a 4 hour a day office. The Poole Market has opened a Village Post Office to serve area residents, but in an area like Slaughters that would most likely take even more sales away from the post office.
In Wheatcroft area resident will have their Community Meeting on November 29 at 5:00 p.m. The current proposal will cut the Wheatcroft hours down to only two hours a day.
Mosley said that she didn’t know of any businesses in the Wheatcroft area that could house a Village Post Office.
Another side effect of the reduced hours, to maintain a Post Master a Post Office must be open at least six hours a day. Poole and Wheatcroft both fell below that line.
J-E News Editor
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