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USPS looks to cut post office hours

For the past several years, the United States Postal Services has lost millions and millions of dollars annually and officials have tried to find ways to turn the tide of the financial free fall.
The postal service shut down many rural locations last year, including the Central, New Middletown and Bradford offices in Harrison County.
Now, after hearing dissent from rural communities where post offices were slated to be closed in the near future, the postal service has decided to attempt a different approach to curb spending by cutting office hours, significantly, in many locations across the country.
In early May, the postal service announced the new strategy that could keep the nation’s smallest post offices open for business and yet still provide the framework to achieve significant cost savings as part of the plan to return the organization to financial stability.
The plan would keep the existing post office in place but with modified retail window hours, according to the postal service. Access to the retail lobby and to P.O. boxes would remain unchanged, and the town’s ZIP code and community identity would be retained.
‘Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and always will be, a top priority. We continue to balance that by better aligning service options with customer demand and reducing the cost to serve,’ Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe said. ‘With that said, we’ve listened to our customers in rural America, and we’ve heard them loud and clear: they want to keep their post office open. 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.’
Locally, post offices in the following towns will reduce window hours from eight a day to four: Crandall, Depauw, Eckerty, Hardinsburg, Laconia, Leavenworth, Mauckport and Birdseye.
A representative from one of the offices dropping from eight to four hours of operation said she did not know when the plan would start, but the community is excited that the office will not be shut down completely. The woman directed further questions to David Walton, USPS spokesperson in Louisville.
Walton said public meetings to gather input from the community on hours of operation and other aspects of the plan will be held in the fall.
‘Nothing will change before Labor Day,’ he said. ‘It’s not something we say, ‘Let’s go for it’ and it happens overnight.’
Walton said the postal service will save money by cutting the hours of operation with salaries, utilities, transportation and more.
He said the communities will get to keep their post offices, and, at the same time, the postal service will save money.
‘It’s a win-win situation,’ he said.
The Fredericksburg post office will also see a reduction in hours, all the way down to just two hours from a normal, eight-hour day.
Three locations ‘ Marengo, Milltown and Ramsey ‘ will only drop from eight to six hour days.
The new strategy will be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014. Once implementation is completed, the postal service estimates savings of a half billion dollars annually. Even that amount of savings won’t pull the postal service out of the red as it’s looking at a $7 billion loss in the current fiscal year.
The Postal Regulatory Commission will review the plan before any changes are made.
The community meetings in the fall will be held to discuss the changes or other options, postal service officials said. Residents in the communities will be notified by mail of the date, time and location of these meetings.
Existing alternatives to the new plan include providing mail delivery service to residents and businesses in the affected community by either rural carrier or highway contract route; contracting with a local business to create a Village Post Office; and offering service from a nearby post office.