Good move saving rural post offices

Written by Observer editorial reports May 15, 2012 01:59 pm

The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service announced last week that it will keep open thousands of rural post offices and reduce costs by cutting hours instead.

That’s welcome news here in Northeast Oregon, where the post office in Imnaha was threatened with closure but will now stay open.

Citizens across America protested the Postal Service plan that would have shuttered thousands of post offices to help it achieve fiscal balance, arguing that rural post offices are
essential to their communities.

Decision-makers at the Postal Service listened to the outcry and made the right call. Reduced hours at the local post office is better than no local post office.

But the Postal Service’s financial problems are growing and it is expected to announce additional cost-cutting measures soon.

Hundreds of mail processing centers, including the one in Pendleton, could face closure in an announcement scheduled for this week. Northeast Oregon’s mail would be processed in Portland if the Pendleton facility closes, which would cause local delivery delays.

It is also possible that Saturday mail delivery will be eliminated to save money.

There is no doubt that major changes are needed in the Postal Service, which receives no tax dollars for its operations and is funded by the sale of postage, postal products and
services.

The Postal Service has experienced a 25 percent decline in First Class mail volume since 2006, is currently losing millions of dollars every day, and projects yearly losses of $21 billion by 2016.

In December 2011, the Postal Service agreed to impose a moratorium on closing or consolidating post offices and mail processing facilities prior to May 15, 2012, to give Congress the opportunity to enact an alternative plan.

That deadline is Tuesday. Congress should pass legislation that will allow the Postal Service to keep open rural post offices and distribution facilities.