Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Postal Service seeks community input, often limited, about post offices without postmasters

Post office in Windsor, Mass.
The U.S. Postal Service intends to quickly implement its restructuring scheme, POstPlan, and is starting by reviewing any post office without a postmaster. There are several thousand post offices in this category, most of them in rural places. The agency is asking for community input, but Steve Hutkins of Save the Post Office says some residents are being left out.

There are 13,000 post offices listed for review under POstPlan, and about 8,000 of those are without a postmaster and will be reviewed "very soon," Hutkins reports. Many patrons of post offices on the list have received a letter describing the plan, with a survey of their preferences about what should happen to their post office.

Though the Postal Regulatory Commission's formal opinion on the plan says all customers of a post office that is being reviewed will receive a survey, in some places only post-office box holders are receiving it, and those on home delivery are not, Hutkins reports. Community meetings with postal officials will be scheduled, but Hutkins reports some meetings are being scheduled during work hours, preventing many people from attending.

Hutkins describes the process: "The plan involves scheduling the community meeting and then sending out the surveys about six weeks before the meeting. Customers are asked to return the survey within two weeks, which will give the Postal Service about a month to tabulate the results. At the meeting, the results of the survey will be shared and discussed, and those customers who haven’t filled out a survey can do so at the meeting. One week later, the Postal Service will announce its decision about the future of the post office. If the decision is to reduce the hours rather than discontinue the office, the new hours of operation will be posted, and they’ll take effect 30 days later." The surveys are being sent out now, the meetings will begin in October, and the reduced hours will take effect starting in November. (Read more)

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