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September 27, 2012

 

McLean Post Office facing hours cut

Postal Service wants to keep it open only four hours a day to save money

McLeanJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
The U.S. Postal Service has proposed making the McLean Post Office a part-time operation, cutting its weekday hours to four from eight. An Oct. 18 public hearing will inform residents of the change and share results of a survey being mailed to people to gather feedback.

By NEIL BENJAMIN JR.
Staff Reporter
nbenjamin@cortlandstandardnews.net

McLEAN — In an attempt to save money, the U.S. Postal Service is considering cutting the hours of operation at the McLean Post Office.
The Postal Service is mailing out surveys to gauge people’s thoughts on the change, which is the service’s favored approach among three other options that include closing the post office.
An Oct. 18 public hearing will inform residents of the survey results and details of the plan to keep the office open for only four hours on weekdays.
More than 60 percent of the people surveyed would need to show a strong preference to close the post office for the Postal Service to consider that option.
The surveys must be returned to the Postal Service by Oct. 3. The public hearing will be held 3:30 p.m. at the post office at 1 School St.
The McLean Post Office is open from 7 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 to 11:45 a.m. on Saturday; it is closed Sunday.
Saturday postal service would remain the same.
The McLean postmaster declined to comment on anything regarding the proposed changes.
The Postal Service is bleeding money and has posted multibillion dollar deficits in recent years.
Last year it lost $5 billion and in 2010 its operating deficit was $8.5 billion.
On Wednesday, the Postal Service announced it would not make a mandated $5.6 billion payment to the U.S Treasury on Sept. 30 to prefund retiree health benefits.
The Postal Service also failed to make a $5.5 billion payment for health benefits due Aug. 1.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. It operates more than 31,000 Post Offices.
In May the Postal Service announced had backed away from a plan to close thousands of post offices in rural areas across the country. Instead, it decided to keep them open but shorten operating hours as a way to reduce cost.
The Postal Service has presented four options for the McLean Post Office.
The first, which it will likely implement, is cutting hours to four days a week. The second would close the office and provide roadside mail delivery and the third would close the office and move it to another location, such as a retail store, to be run by a contractor.
The last option is to close the office entirely and provide P.O. Box service at nearby offices.
“We really looked at all options to try and keep the post offices open in these rural areas,” said Gail Adams, principal at the Postal Regulatory Commission. “We wanted to connect customer behavior to see if reduced hours would help.”
McLean Fire Chief Mike Totman said he has been very outspoken on the matter. He wants to keep the office open.
He has been using the office his entire life, and says it is a necessary service for the area.
“I’m hoping we can get enough support, enough of a community voice, for the post office to remain open,” he said. “Keeping the same hours is not going to happen, so the best option to choose is cutting the hours down to four.”
The Postal Service can still decide to shutter the office if it wants, said Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.
If that happens, the village can appeal to the regulatory commission, but Goldway said that rarely yields results.
“It’s a known fact that we’re not a strong supporter of community appeals,” she said.
In addition to McLean’s office, centers at Blodgett Mills, Etna, Little York, McDonough, Pitcher, Preble, Truxton and Willet are also facing a reduction in service.
In total, more than 13,000 facilities across the country will see reductions in hours of operation.

 

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