Some post offices to cut hours in half
CAPITAL REGION Earl Van Wormer III thinks the U.S. Postal Service is mismanaged.
As evidence, the Esperance town supervisor points to the string of rural post offices that dot Route 20 in Schoharie County and into Schenectady County.
Each post office, he says, is open at similar times, times when people who work during the day can’t use it.
“Because of the mismanagement of the Postal Service from the top on down, they’ve created problems that have just been magnified,” Van Wormer said Monday. “What they’re looking to do is the exact opposite of what they should be doing.”
What the Postal Service is looking to do is cut hours at rural post offices in a bid to save money — and keep the hub of many communities open.
The Esperance Post Office is one of nearly 50 rural post offices in the greater Capital Region where the Postal Service may cut hours.
Many are proposed to see reductions from eight hours a day to six. Others are slated for as few as four or two hours a day.
The Postal Service announced the larger plan in May, releasing a large list of affected post offices nationwide.
From that list, Schoharie, Albany and Rensselaer counties are hardest hit locally. Each of the three has more than 10 that may be affected.
Schenectady County is seeing two offices, Pattersonville and Rotterdam Junction, with Pattersonville slated for four hours and Rotterdam Junction six.
Montgomery and Saratoga counties are set for four each and Fulton County one.
For each post office slated for a reduction in hours, the Postal Service will hold or has held a public meeting on the issue. At the meetings, options are reviewed in greater detail, according to the initial announcement.
Those meetings began last month, with residents notified of the times and dates by mail.
At least 10 local meetings already have been held, including Pattersonville, which took place last week, and Esperance, which took place Oct. 16.
Meetings in Warnerville and Guilderland Center are set for Thursday. Meeting times and dates for a number of post offices have not yet been announced.
Other options to be discussed at the meetings are providing mail delivery to residents 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.
Each of the post offices will remain open, officials said, unless the local community has a strong preference in favor of one of the other options.
In a statement issued in May, Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe said that the needs of postal customers will always be a top priority.
To ensure that, they continue to work to better align service options with customer demand, as well as reducing costs.
“With that said,” Donahoe said at the time, “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.”
In the May announcement, he said, the changes “will serve our customers’ needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability.”
The approach is to be implemented over two years and wouldn’t be completed until September 2014.
With the new approach, the Postal Service expects to save a half-billion dollars annually.
For Van Wormer, the Postal Service should take a different approach. He believes post offices should keep the same number of hours, but some should open earlier and some later.
Such an approach would make the Postal Service a better option for people who can’t get to the post office during the normal times, he said.
“Instead of thinking of ways to serve the public better, they’re thinking of ways to reduce the amount of time it’s open,” said Van Wormer, who also noted post offices can be gathering places. “How is that business-friendly? How does that make sense? They want to attract business. They don’t want to take away business.”