August 4, 2011

Rutledge Among 3,700 Post Offices Being Considered For Closure by USPS

Automated postal centers like this one are just one option the United States Postal Service is considering to replace as many as 3,700 post offices nationwide that are being considered for closure.

As more customers choose to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phones and at their favorite shopping destinations, the need for the U.S. Postal Service to maintain its nearly 32,000 retail offices - the largest retail network in the country - diminishes. To that end, the U.S. Postal Service announced on July 26th that it will be taking the next step in right-sizing its expansive retail network by conducting studies of approximately 3,700 retail offices to determine customer needs.

As part of this effort, the Postal Service also introduced a retail-replacement option for affected communities around the nation.

"Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service's retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and, open 24/7," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. "Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business."

Numerous northeast Missouri post offices are on the review list, including one Scotland County site, Rutledge. Other post offices under review in the area include Glenwood, Fremont, Revere, Novelty, Saint Patrick and Williamstown.

In a nutshell, these sites are being considered for closing stated Tim Ratliff public relations officer with the USPS.

"These post offices are being reviewed because of a number of factors including low work load for postal employees, insufficient customer demand for services, and or the availability of other options to receive access to postal services," said Ratliff.

The bottom line is the continued decline of demand for services coupled with expanding costs of providing mail delivery.

Donahoe pointed out in his address to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, that the postal service has experienced a 20 percent decline in total volume in the past three years.

While the USPS has made significant cost saving efforts recently, he noted that even more will be required. A key factor for the financial troubles is the government mandate for the USPS to prefund retiree health benefits, which has been in place since Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) in 2007. That has resulted in prepayment of $5.5 billion each fiscal year, an incredible burden that no other entity, private or public, must bear, Donahoe said.

Even if Congress adjusts the PAEA, USPS is still faced with difficult financial decisions such as the current review of the 3,700 post offices.

For communities currently without a postal retail office and for communities affected by these retail optimization efforts, the Postal Service introduced the Village Post Office as a potential replacement option. Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.

"By working with third-party retailers, we're creating easier, more convenient access to our products and services when and where our customers want them," Donahoe said. "The Village Post Office will offer another way for us to meet our customers' needs."

With 32,000 postal retail offices and more than 70,000 third-party retailers - Approved Postal Providers - selling postage stamps and providing expanded access to other postal products and services, customers today have about 100,000 locations across the nation where they can do business with the Postal Service.

"The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities and deliver value," Donahoe added.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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