The U.S. Postal Service released a proposal last week to reduce the retail hours of about 13,000 post offices nationwide, including many in and around Marion County. The Postal Service had previously proposed closing many rural post offices.
Post offices in Marion County that the Postal Service proposes reducing the hours of are:
- Burns, cut from 8 to 4 hours open per day,
- Durham, cut from 6 to 2,
- Florence, cut from 8 to 4,
- Lehigh, cut from 6 to 2,
- Lincolnville, cut from 8 to 4,
- Lost Springs, cut from 6 to 4,
- Peabody, cut from 8 to 6,
- and Ramona, cut from 8 to 4.
Several people interviewed Monday said the proposed reductions were much more tolerable than losing their post offices.
“Well, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d like it better than no post office at all,” Carol Callahan of Burns said.
It wouldn’t be much of a problem for Barb Kaiser of Lincolnville, but she could see how it might affect others.
“I live close to the post office, so the shortened hours probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I would have to be aware of when it is open,” Kaiser said. “It might make it more difficult for rural people and people who work out of town to use the post office.”
Perry Gutsch of Agri Producers Inc. in Lincolnville said shortened hours wouldn’t be a big problem for the business.
“We would just have to take care of post office business whenever it was open,” he said.
Judy Creamer said she thought a reduction of hours at the Florence post office wouldn’t be a problem.
“I don’t think it would bother us,” she said. “I think four hours a day would be plenty for us.”
The Postal Service is also proposing reducing the open hours of post offices in several nearby communities, including Burdick, Canton, Cedar Point, Cottonwood Falls, Elmdale, Galva, Roxbury, and Strong City.
The Postal Service is seeking cost-cutting measures in response to a drastic reduction in mail. First-class mail volume has fallen 25 percent in the past six years, Postal Service regional spokesman Brian Sperry said Tuesday. E-mail and online billing have seriously cut into the Postal Service’s business.
“I think people understand that ‘business as usual’ is not an option for us,” Sperry said.
Post offices were chosen for reduction of hours based on mail volume and number of customer visits, he said. The proposal is expected to save $500 million per year if it is fully implemented, Sperry said. No changes will be made until at least Labor Day, and new hours wouldn’t be completely implemented until September 2014.
There are alternatives to reducing a post office’s hours in rural towns, Sperry said, including having a “village post office,” with a local business selling stamps and having PO boxes, rather than having a post office open two or four hours per day.