Union Post Office

The U.S. Postal Service announced a new strategy Wednesday that could keep the nation’s smallest post offices open for business, while providing a framework to achieve significant cost savings as part of the plan to return the organization to financial stability.

This plan would impact more than a dozen post offices in this area.

The plan would keep the existing post offices in place, but with modified retail window hours to match customer use. Access to the retail lobby and to PO boxes would remain unchanged, and the town’s ZIP code and community identity would be retained.

“Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and will always be, a top priority. We continue to balance that by better aligning service options with customer demand and reducing the cost to serve,” said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe.

“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.”

The new strategy would be implemented over a two-year, multiphased approach and would not be completed until September 2014. Once implementation is completed, the postal service estimates savings of a half billion dollars annually.

“The postal service is committed to serving America’s communities and providing a responsible and fair approach for our employees and customers,” said Megan Brennan, postal service chief operating officer. “The post offices in rural America will remain open unless a community has a strong preference for one of the other options. We will not close any of these rural post offices without having provided a viable solution.”

The postal service will provide an opportunity for the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to review this plan prior to making any changes. The postal service intends to file a request for an advisory opinion on the plan with the PRC later this month.

Community meetings would then be conducted to review options in greater detail. Communities will be notified by mail of the date, time and location of these meetings.

This new option complements existing alternatives, which 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.

Area Offices

Area post offices whose hours of operation would be reduced if this latest plan is implemented are as follows:

Beaufort, current hours eight; reduced to four.

Berger, current eight; reduced to four.

Catawissa, current hours eight; reduced to four.

Gray Summit, current hours eight; reduced to six.

Labadie, current hours eight; reduced to four.

Leslie, current hours eight; reduced to four.

Lonedell, current hours eight; reduced to six.

New Haven, current hours eight; reduced to six.

Robertsville, current hours eight, reduced to four.

Rosebud, current hours eight; reduced to four.

Augusta, current hours eight; reduced to four.

Dutzow, current hours eight, reduced to four.

Marthasville, current hours eight; reduced to six.

This is a preliminary list that requires additional review, analysis, and verification, and is subject to change, the postal service said.

A voluntary early retirement incentive for the nation’s more than 21,000 non-executive postmasters also was announced.

Survey research conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation in February, showed 54 percent of rural customers would prefer the new solution to maintain a local post office. Forty-six percent prefer one of the previously announced solutions (20 percent prefer village post office, 15 percent prefer providing services at a nearby post office, 11 percent prefer expanded rural delivery).

This strategy would enable a town to possibly have a post office with modified hours, as well as a village post office.