JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - U.S. Senator Mark Pryor issued strong words to the U.S. Postal Service Thursday in the wake of possible post office closures in Arkansas.
Pryor gave the USPS a failing grade for its efforts to keep communities informed about possible post office closures. The list of possible post office closures include Alicia, Wilson, State University (ASU), Peach Orchard, Wideman, Pineville, Board Camp, Gepp, Goodwin, Ida, Monroe, Johnson City, Springdale, East Camden, and Driver.
In a statement, Pryor says the USPS has an operating deficit of over $8 billion and may be forced to close up to 2,000 post offices across the country. The postal service issued a statement saying "we are examining a number of offices in Arkansas as part of our attempt to remain solvent, reap savings, and continue to provide universal service to customers nationwide."
Also in the statement, the USPS says it will conduct community meetings in each of the communities that may lose its post office. Some of the factors it gives for possible closure include whether a postmaster is working in the community, a lease agreement or other facility issue necessitates a change, or there are any nearby Post Offices that can be consolidated into one location. It says all of those factors can save thousands of dollars.
Senator Pryor says, "USPS has lost billions over the last few years, and it should take steps to improve fiscal viability. Allowing customers to share their views about how local closures will impact their communities must be part of this process. The postal service is not doing an adequate job of keeping communities involved."
The USPS says its carriers can provide many of the services including package pick up and selling stamps right from their vehicle. No date was given on when a decision would be made on the fate of the nearly 2,000 post offices on the list.
Read Senator Pryor's letter to the U.S. Postal Service here.
Statement from the USPS:
The Postal Service is doing everything within its authority to reduce costs, save money and streamline operations and will continue to look for opportunities to improve customer service. By consolidating operations, adjusting delivery routes and restructuring administrative and processing functions, the Postal Service is adapting to meet the evolving needs of its customers.
Mail volume has declined by 43.1 billion pieces in the past five years, dropping an average of six percent each year for the past three years. The majority of the volume decline is in First-Class Mail. Reduced mail volume, coupled with the unique burden of prefunding retiree health benefits, is creating enormous financial pressures on the Postal Service.
Currently, we are examining a number of offices in Arkansas as part of our attempt to remain solvent, reap savings and continue to provide universal service to customers nationwide.
In each community where we are studying a possible Post Office closing, we conduct a community meeting to explain our study and allow local citizens to express their viewpoints. Many times these communities are examined because either a Postmaster no longer is working in that community, a lease agreement or other facility issue necessitates a change in the physical Post Office or there are several nearby Post Offices that can be consolidated into one location saving thousands of dollars.
Additionally, our rural letter carriers provide a Post Office on Wheels in all of these locations. Carriers will pick up letters and packages, and sell stamps and other retail items right from their vehicle so customers don't have to make a trip to the Post Office.