Areas facing postal cutback
Posted: October 12, 2012
The Winchester Star
GORE — Residents have been invited to a 1:30 p.m. meeting on Oct. 29 at the town post office to discuss the possibility of reducing operating hours at the facility.
Included with the invitation was a survey asking residents if they would approve of a study to see if the post office at 6819 Northwestern Pike should be closed.
The survey is part of the U.S. Postal Service’s effort to cut its huge deficit by limiting hours on low-revenue offices.
If at least 60 percent of respondents approve of closing the facility, then it will be shut, but no decision will be made prior to the meeting.
Millwood residents received a similar survey, with plans to drop the weekday hours at its post office from eight to six, just like Gore’s. A meeting will be held at that facility — 2009 Millwood Road — to discuss its future at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Star Tannery residents got a similar letter last month, with a steeper cut, to two hours. The residents’ meeting there is planned for 2 p.m. Wednesday at that post office, 2112 Star Tannery Road.
“Most of the information and options in the letters/surveys are all the same,” said Patrick Murphy, communications coordinator for the Northern Virginia District of the U.S. Postal Service.
He said the only differences in the survey letters from site to site are the recommended reduction in hours, which is based on the workload at each post office.
The White Post facility is also on the list for shorter hours, but according to Murphy, residents there will not be contacted about any changes until a later date.
Gore residents have also been asked if they would like to see a village post office established in a local business. If they select that option, however, their regular post office would definitely be shut down.
If Gore residents don’t approve of a study to completely close their office, the letter to residents states that the Postal Service plans to shorten hours of operation there to six hours of window service on weekdays. The current Saturday window service hours would not change, but the Postal Service is asking Congress for permission to eliminate Saturday mail delivery.
Murphy said 14 communities in the district, which covers 4,200 square miles in Northern Virginia as far west as Winchester and as far south as Culpeper, have been selected to receive the surveys under the POST Plan to shorten hours at some facilities.
Last year, the Postal Service planned to shutter 3,700 mostly rural post offices. But that drew the ire of many congressmen representing rural districts.
The new plan calls for cutting back hours at 1,300 post offices, but the savings from that probably won’t significantly reduce the Postal Service’s deficit.
The latest survey, delivered in September, puts residents served by the Star Tannery post office back on the treadmill. Many have battled for a year to keep the Postal Service from closing the doors of their post office, which was originally slated to be shuttered in January.
However, the Postal Service agreed to establish a village post office in nearby Star Market, the first such facility in Virginia.
Star Tannery’s regular post office then got a reprieve when Congress agreed to take another look at the rules it uses to govern the Postal Service — which must operate by congressional edicts even though it is considered a private company and receives no tax funding.
Congress, however, found no solution before the election season recess, and there is little hope for action in the “lame duck” session through the end of the year.
The mail carrier, which is also coping with the loss of first-class mail volume due in part to heavier use of the Internet and electronic banking, expects to lose $14.1 billion by the end of the year.
The Postal Service recently defaulted on its $11 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury for future health benefits for retirees.
— Contact Val Van Meter at email@example.com