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September 17, 2011     Times
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September 17, 2011
 

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" Turnout For PO By Mike Lakin Thurs. Sept. 8 the Aetna Township parking area was packed. And inside, with over 100- residents in attendance, it was standing room . only, : .Why were Chestnut residents pack- ing the Aetna Township Building? They were there to hear and be heard over the Chestnut Post Office Closure Study. The Chestnut PO is among 3,652 post offices across the country listed as potentially closing. In addition to Chestnut, the Lake Fork PO and Comland PO are on the potential dosing list. Postal Offcials in attendance were Cathy Vaughn and Stevon Brown. Attending with the officials were area Postmasters Randy Campbell and Charles Rutschke. The meeting opened with a member of the public requesting The Pledge of Allegiance. After opening with The Pledge, Mr. Brown stated that nothing had been established concerning the closure of the Chestnut PO. He empha- sized, "This is not a done deal." Mr. Brown set out the facts of why the closures are being studied. He said the U.S. Postal Service CUSPS) is "a company in trouble". He followed with the following statistics... The USPS delivers 40% of the mail in the world. It is the 3 m largest employer in the US after Wal-Mart. It pays $3.8-billion in salaries and benefits. The USPS peaked in its mail volume in 2006 with $14 billion in mail income. In 2010 the mail volume had dropped in value to $12.25 billion. 35% oi' postal transactions take place in non-post office locations. The USPS is now consolidating offices and processing facilities. It has frozen executive salaries. Without lay-offs, the USPS has reduced mail carriers by 110,000 indi- viduals. Ending Saturday delivery is one pro- posal to save money. This can only be done with Congressional approval. THE USPS is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of post- age, products and services to fund its operations. Postal Official Cathy Vauglm spoke about closure criteria. The - how behind why- the Chestnut PO is now 4 on the closure study list. Vaughn said residents served by the Chestnut PO have alternative post offices within the area - Beason, Mt. Pulaski, and Latham. Even now, the Mt. Pulaski Post Office is the USPS adminis- trative office for the Chestnut PO. She quoted the financial aspect of the Chestnut PO. In 2007 the office generated $24,000 in postal revenue. In 2008 the revenue was $27,000. In 2009 revenue was $25,000. In 2010 revenue was $21,000. Vaughan then said that the current total cost for operation of the Chestnut PO is $73,188.00. . She then stated, that the Postal Regu- latory Commission would make the final decision on closure. The Postal Regulatory Commission then has 120 days for review. Vaughan explained that the overall USPS financial situation is a real finan- cial problem. Among the financial pre sums are... $55 billion in liabilities for its retiree health benefits program. In the past 5 years, mail volume declined by 43.1 billion pieces. Cus- tomer Post Office visits declined by 200 million, and retail transactions have declined by $2 billion. Reduced rev- enue, coupled with the unique burden of pre-funding retiree health benefits, is creating financial pressure on the Postal Service. The USPS has not hired new, fuU-time, employees in the last ten years. The only new hires have been temporary employ- ees. She added that though the USPS has the authority, it has never had lay-offs in its history. In the event the Chestnut PO is closed, Postmaster MaryArm Murphy would have the opportunity to move to a new position in the USPS. THE USPS has limited authority for borrowing. The limit is at $15 billion. The USPS is at that established limit. How would Chestnut residents be served if the post office is dosed? Vaughan said options include individ- uals could put up rural mailboxes and/ or the postal service could put up duster boxes at a central Chestnut location. Chestnut might get what USPS is call- hag a Village Post Office; a local business that sells stamps and flat-rate boxes, and package mailing service. Route carriers also sell stamps and provide a package mailing service. /n response to reffdent questions, gaughan stated... The Springfield Post Office is the only area post office tttrning a profit. The fast pace of declining volume is one factor causing the closure review of post offices across the country. There would not be an increase in cost at the Mt. Pulaski PO if the Chestnut PO is closed. There would be a change in workload, not expenses. If Congress approves the ending of Saturday delivery, the savings are pro- jected to be $31 billion. One question revolved around why the Chestnut PO is being considered for closure while the Beason PO cur- rently is not. It was repeatedly noted that the business volume of mail appeared greaterthan the Beason volume would be. Vaughan .said that Beason was not on the current closure study list and she did not have statistical information on Beason. Oau readent comments induded... Concerns over vandalism of mail- boxes. Another resident commented they didn't have the option of using the Intemet for communication. "A lot of us don't Intemet, so don't tell us to do it online," he said. Chestnut businesses rely on the post office for shipping purposes and that its closure would cause inconvenience to local merchants and businesses. A resident commented that MaryAnn provides a quality-personal service not available at other post offices. That com- ment drew a thunderous applause from residents in attendance. If closed, the Chestnut- Zip Code and address will remain in use because the postal service needs to retain the code for its internal sorting. What criteria are considered when studying whether or not a Post OEfice should dose? a. The effect closing a Post Office would have on the community served. b. The effect dosing a Post Office would have on the employees of the fadlity. c. Compliance with government policy established by law that the Postal Mt. Pulaski T'nnes Service must provide maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas and small towns where Post Offices are not self-sustaining. d. Economic savings to the Postal Service. e. Other factors the Postal Services deems necessary. This includes what the USPS calls Group I post offices with less than $27,500 in annual revenue; less than 2 hours of workload daily. The process is as follows: The residents and businesses served by the Postal Service-operated office will be given 60 days' notice of a proposed action so they can provide comments. The proposal is posted in affected offices and is accompanied by an invitation for comment. After public comments are received and taken into account, any final deter- mination to close or consolidate a Postal Service-operated facility must be made in writing and must include findings cov- ering all required study criteria. Residents and businesses must be noti- fied at least 60 days before the closure takes effect. Within the first 30 days after a final determination to discontinue a Post Office is made available, any person reg- ularly served by a Post Office subject to discontinuance may appeal the decision to the Postal Regulatory Commission. What Postal Service-operated retail offices are going to close? At this time, the Postal Service is only studying certain Post Offices. No decision has been made to dose Post Offices as part of a centralized initiative led by Postal Service headquarters. Such decisions will be made later, after com- munity input has been received. Will these, changes affect offices only in rural America? The majority of offices to be studied are in rural locations. As one Chestnut resident commented - outside the meeting - the postal ser- vice is over looking the most important thing about the Chestnut Post Office, the service aspect. Postmaster Mary- Ann Murphy has given the community of Chestnut the one thing that the postal service needs to consider and hasn't; maryAnn has provided decades of per- sonal service and that should not and cannot be reduced to dollars and cents. Sept. 17, 2011