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Proposal to reduce post office hours
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The latest plans to save the U.S. Postal Service are in the mail.
In a report released Wednesday, the agency announced plans to reduce hours at 241 post offices in Tennessee – including three in Warren County. Impacted will be post offices in Viola, Rock Island and Campaign.
The move comes amid growing financial losses at the Postal Service. On Thursday, the agency reported a quarterly loss of $3.2 billion and blamed Congress for blocking its cost-cutting efforts to offset declining mail volume and mounting costs for future retiree health benefits.
Unlike previous efforts to halt mail delivery on Saturday, which requires congressional approval, the Postal Service can reduce hours on its own.
“We can move forward with this whether Congress approves it or not,” Postal Service media specialist David Walton told the Standard on Friday. “We understand people do not want to lose their post office. We have heard that message loud and clear. This will be a way to keep their post office open if that’s something the community wants to do.”
Under the plan, hours at Viola Post Office would be reduced from eight to four. Hours at Campaign Post Office would be reduced from four to two. Hours at Rock Island Post Office would be reduced from eight to six.
Walton said no changes would be made before Labor Day and it would take a full two years to implement the reduced hours at nearly 3,700 post offices around the nation. Estimated annual savings are $500 million.
A series of town hall meetings will be the next step. Walton says communities will be given three options:
1. Keep their post office at the reduced hours specified;
2. Create a village post office;
3. Close the post office and receive service from a nearby post office.
A village post office is like a contract post office, which is what is operated inside Sullivan’s Hometown Pharmacy, formerly Super D.
A village post office is not operated by federal postal employees. Instead, it’s operated by a private business person who hires the employees and maintains the store. The Postal Service provides the equipment.
“A community might not want to have their post office operating at reduced hours and there may be somebody, like a supermarket owner, who says I will open a village post office inside my store,” said Walton. “In those cases, the village post office can stay open as long as the store owner wants. In many cases, village post offices stay open longer than regular post offices.”