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USPS reducing retail hours for many rural Post Offices

U.S. Post Offices

By Liz Bowen

USPS sent out an article last week that RURAL America was up in arms about proposed closures of Post Offices and said it will not close those Post Offices.  Whew, I breathed a sign of relief — at least until after the Nov. elections.

Then on Friday, May 11, 2012, many hundreds of Post Masters received phone calls saying their jobs were about to be terminated and the hours of retail service at these RURAL Post Offices will be greatly reduced.

Yep, that is right.

In its wisdom to seek a balanced budget, the USPS authorities are cutting out the office of Post Master in these rural Post Offices. Yet, post office employees and contract people will still be hired to replace the Post Masters. It all does not add up to much savings, but the P.O. Boxes will remain in Post Offices as will the zip code.

A significant number of Post Offices in Siskiyou County are affected. But luckily for Forks of Salmon, it will remain open with a live employee, Jesse, for 6 hours as it has been.

Others are being drastically cut in retail hours — most by half. Scott Bar will be cut from 8 hrs to only 2 hrs.

Pacific Crest Trail hikers may find it more difficult to obtain packages left for them as the Seiad Valley Post Office has been reduced from 8 hrs to 4.

Others, I noticed, that were reduced to 4 hours were Gazelle, Greenview, MacDoel and my own Callahan.

I will truly miss our wonderful Post Master Lisa. She is from a long line of Post Masters in her family going back at least 4 generations.

Grenada and Hornbrook are being cut back from 8 hrs to 6.

I may have missed a few Post Offices, so check out the link to find your Post Office. It is listed by state and, literally, thousands of Post Offices across the nation are finding their retail hours reduced.

Pretty frustrating it is, because the two officials from Sacramento that held meetings regarding proposed Post Office closures in Callahan and Forks of Salmon last October, did not follow the meeting process correctly. We, the citizens, caught them in several lies and I have the Forks of Salmon meeting on video. We also have written statements regarding the lies and inconsistencies at the Callahan meeting.

 

http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/assets/pdf/postplan-affected-post-offices-120509.pdf

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Postal Service floats plan to keep open rural post offices

Federal gov & land grabs, U.S. Post Offices

PNP comment: We citizens in Callahan and Forks of Salmon were fighting to keep our Post Offices open. When two USPS officials came in October 2011 and held meetings about our closures, we quickly figured out they were not following their correct process and protocol. It was a farce and they lied to our faces! — Editor Liz  Bowen

Published May 09, 2012

FoxNews.com

The U.S. Postal Service floated a cost-cutting plan Wednesday that would keep open thousands of rural post offices, amid concerns about widespread cuts and closures.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the financially struggling agency no longer seeks to close as many as 3,700 post offices after May 15, and will instead focus on reducing full-time staff while keeping open post offices in rural areas that would have reduced hours but continued access to stamp machines and individual letter boxes.

“We’ve listened to our customers in rural America and we’ve heard them loud and clear,” he said during a press conference in Washington. “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.”

Among the concerns of rural residents is they lack reliable Internet service, so they must depend on letters and packages for such important items as mail-order prescription drugs.

Though no post office will close and no zip code will be retired, 13,000 rural post offices could have their hours cuts two to six hours for the agency to meets its multibillion-dollar cost-cutting goal.

Donahoe said the two-year approach includes options and will be completed September 2014 with estimated savings of a $500 million annually.

Megan Brennan, the agency’s chief operating officer, said at the press conference that 39 percent of the agency revenue is generated outside post offices, particularly by customers doing business online or with retail partners.

We’re “committed to rural America, but know post offices are not profitable and in financial crisis,” she said.

The Postal Service intends to seek regulatory approval and get community input, a process that could take several months. The new strategy would then be implemented over two years and completed in September 2014, saving an estimated half billion dollars annually.

Under the new plan, communities would be given the option of keeping their area post offices open, but at reduced hours. Another option would be to close a postal office in one area while keeping a nearby one open full-time. Communities also could opt for alternatives, including creating a Village Post Office in which postal services are offered in libraries, government offices or local stores such as a Wal-Mart, Walgreens or Office Depot.

The latest move comes as the Postal Service is making a broad push for Congress to pass legislation this summer that would allow the agency to move forward on its multibillion-dollar cost-cutting plan, which includes an end to Saturday mail delivery.

Due to rural opposition, the Senate this month passed a bill that would in part impose a one-year moratorium on shuttering rural post offices and place additional restrictions afterward, a move that the Postal Service later denounced as “totally inappropriate” because it kept unneeded facilities open.

In the House, hesitancy among rural lawmakers is helping to stall a separate bill that would allow for far more aggressive postal cuts.

Most of the 3,700 post offices that had been under review for possible closing had been in rural areas with low volumes of business, with as many as 3,000 only having two hours of business a day, though open longer. The agency now operates more than 31,000 retail outlets around the country.

Post office officials expect to save more money with the new plan, mostly by weeding out full-time postmasters who don’t have labor contract protections and replacing them with part-time workers. The agency plans to offer buyouts for the nation’s more than 21,000 postmasters, noting that more than 80 percent of its postal costs in rural areas are labor related.

The Postal Service has been grappling with losses as first-class mail volume declines and more people switch to the Internet to send messages and pay bills. The agency has forecast a record $14.1 billion loss by the end of this year; without changes, it said, annual losses will exceed $21 billion by 2016.

It also is pushing Congress to pass legislation by early summer. If the House fails to act soon, postal officials say, they will face a cash crunch in August and September, when the agency must pay more than $11 billion to the U.S. Treasury to prefund future retiree health benefits. Already $13 billion in debt, the health payment obligation will force the mail agency to run up against its $15 billion debt ceiling, causing it to default on the payments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/05/09/postal-service-will-keep-rural-post-offices-open/?test=latestnews#ixzz1uQKeuUoZ

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Quarterly loss hits $3.3B at Postal Service

U.S. Post Offices

PNP comment:  We will try to save our Callahan, CA Post Office and Forks of Salmon Post Office. — Editor Liz Bowen

By HOPE YEN
Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 – 6:46 am

Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 – 11:37 am

WASHINGTON — Teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service’s loss in the fourth quarter ballooned to $3.3 billion amid declining mail volume and the soaring costs of health benefits for future retirees.

From October through December 2011, losses were $3 billion more than the same period a year ago, even though that quarter is typically the strongest due to increased holiday shipping. The mail agency said that at this rate, it will run out of money by October.

The Postal Service is seeking new leeway from Congress to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, raise stamp prices and reduce health and other labor costs.

Also at stake are roughly 100,000 jobs, part of a postal cost-cutting plan to save up to $6.5 billion a year by closing 252 mail processing centers and up to 3,700 post offices. At the request of Congress, the cash-strapped agency agreed to wait until mid-May to begin closures so lawmakers would have time to stabilize its finances first.

Prospects for immediate congressional action remain uncertain.

“Passage of legislation is urgently needed that provides the Postal Service with the speed and flexibility needed to cut costs that are not under our control, including employee health costs,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

He said the post office must cut $20 billion in annual costs by 2015 so it can reach profitability, rather than becoming a “long-term burden to taxpayers.” The agency forecasts a record $14.1 billion loss by the end of this year.

If the post office were to run out of money, officials said, they would prioritize what mail services to provide. Private companies such as FedEx and UPS could handle a small portion of the material the post office moves, but they do not go everywhere. No business has shown interest in delivering letters everywhere in the country for a set rate of 45 cents for a first-class letter.

“We have a Postal Service that essentially is living from paycheck to paycheck, which is a very risky proposition for the American economy and the 8 million private sector workers whose jobs rely on the mail,” said Art Sackler, coordinator of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a group representing the private sector mailing industry. “Each day Congress fails to enact postal reform, this problem grows more difficult and perhaps more expensive to resolve.”

Overall, the post office had income of $17.7 billion from October through December, the first quarter of its 2012 fiscal year. That was down $200 million from the same period last year. Expenses were $17.5 billion.

In addition, the Postal Service had costs stemming from yearly advance payments of roughly $5.5 billion to a future retiree health-benefit fund. Because the agency is low on cash, Congress agreed to extend the legal deadline for last year’s payment until this fall, when this year’s payment will also be due.

In its financial statement, the post office spread the total $11.1 billion in costs over 12 months, creating additional quarterly debt of more than $3 billion. Without those annual payments – not required of other government agencies – the post office would have posted a profit in most recent years and had a loss of roughly $200 million in the last quarter.

The Postal Service also has been rocked by declining mail volume as people and businesses continue switching to the Internet in place of letters and paper bills. The number of items mailed during the last quarter was 43.7 billion pieces, a 6 percent decrease, much of it in first-class mail.

On the positive side, postal shipping services such as express and priority mail had an 8 percent increase in income to $3.2 billion, with package volume in the holiday period nearly double that of FedEx and UPS, according to postal officials.

Separate proposals passed last year by House and Senate committees would scrap or reduce the annual health prepayment, but they differ widely on financial oversight and a reduction to five-day-a-week delivery. The Senate initially planned action earlier this month but stalled as some lawmakers pushed for changes that would delay decisions on closings and delivery cuts for at least two more years.

On Thursday, Donahoe said reducing the size of its postal network was critical to its efforts to reduce costs. Closure of mail-processing centers were still planned to begin after mid-May. He said the mail agency was revising some of its proposals to accommodate the needs of rural communities, which rely more heavily on postal service for the delivery of newspapers, prescription drugs and other services.

As part of the changes, the mail agency plans cuts to first-class mail that would slow delivery and, for the first time, virtually eliminate the chance for stamped letters to arrive the next day.

“We have to make sure we are taking actions that are swift to maintain our liquidity and pay our bills,” said chief financial officer Joe Corbett, warning that large losses will continue without changes. “This is no way to run a business.”

Last year, postal losses totaled $5.1 billion.

Online:

http://www.usps.gov

Read more here:

Quarterly loss hits $3.3B at Postal Service

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/09/4251034/quarterly-loss-hits-33b-at-postal.html#storylink=cpy

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Walden reports on Post Office closures – stopped for now

OR Cong Greg Walden, U.S. Post Offices

From Oregon Congressman Greg Walden

Update on rural post offices

As you know, the Postal Service released plans last year to look into closing 3,600 post offices around the country, including 31 in southern, central, and eastern Oregon. With my strong support, on Dec. 16 the House passed (and the President eventually signed into law) legislation that prevents the Postal Service from closing any rural post offices through September.

Make no mistake, the Postal Service is in dire straits. Mail volume is down 20 percent since 2006. This year alone, the agency is projected to lose more than $9 billion, and could cease operations next year if something isn’t done. With a nationwide retail network larger than all McDonalds, Starbucks, UPS, and FedEx combined, I recognize the need to increase the efficiency of the system. I am concerned, though, about potential closures disproportionately affecting rural areas, especially in light of the fact that maintaining rural post offices only amounts to 0.7 percent of the Postal Service’s total budget.

The Postal Service’s own watchdog even said in a report released on Dec. 23 that their plans lacked proper analysis, as the Postal Service did not collect individualized cost savings estimates or separate retail costs from other operational costs. It also found that the options that the Postal Service gave for alternative access were not suitable.

This freeze on closing rural post offices will give the Postal Service time to rethink its approach—this time with the input of the people’s elected representatives. The Postal Service is facing billion dollar deficits, and saving it requires serious reforms.  The Postal Service should use this time given to it by Congress to develop a better approach that cuts costs and reforms its operations, while preserving service for all Oregonians, including those in rural communities.

I will continue to keep you updated on this issue as Congress works with the Postal Service to cut costs and reform operations. It’s an honor to serve you.

 

 

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