The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 24, 2012

Add your 2 cents on postal savings

Get involved before decisions are finalized


The Tribune-Democrat

— The financially ailing U.S. Postal Service continues to look at ways to cut costs while operating more economically and efficiently. And it’s asking its customers to assist with suggestions.

We urge area residents to get involved. Once decisions are made and changes put into effect, it will be difficult to turn back.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Mark Critz called on residents in his 12th district

to participate in a USPS survey aimed at determining the hours smaller post offices should operate.

Area residents will be receiving a letter and a survey on the hours-reduction proposal, called POSTPlan. Wanted is input on the best ways to provide service to small communities.

The letter also will provide information about future town hall meetings on the matter.

“Because Congress refuses to act to help solve the Postal Service’s fiscal problems, they (USPS) are being forced to reduce hours at 13,000 post offices across the nation,” Critz said.

Nearly 130 post offices would be affected in the 12th district, Critz noted.

Those in our region affected and the number of daily service hours proposed were listed in a front-page story in the Oct. 19 Tribune-Democrat. They can be viewed on our website, www.tribdem.com.

The reduced-hours plan was proposed after a 2011 move to close smaller post offices was shot down nationwide.

Also put aside, at least for now, was a controversial plan to end Saturday delivery.

However, Tad Kelly, a spokesman for the Western Pennsylvania District of the Postal Service, said, “We are actively seeking interest from small businesses within communities who may wish to open a village post office – providing many of the products we serve at traditional post offices – to complement the plan.”

We’d like to hear more about that.

The Postal Service is an independent agency of government and does not receive taxpayer money for its operations. It is, however, subject to congressional control.

Its growing financial dilemma has been well documented over the past several years, some of it tied to personnel problems, including pension debt, poor management practices, and also the fact that more people are using the Internet to pay bills and send letters.

It was reported earlier this year that the agency was $12 billion in debt, an amount some say could grow to $21 billion by 2016.

Central City borough council President Dan Dabbs told our Frank Sojak that he believes it would be better to have reduced hours than to not have a post office.

“It’s a convenience,” he said, adding that people or businesses can buy stamps, mail a package or rent a post office box.

Obviously, any USPS cutbacks, whether in services or in manpower, would touch every one of our readers.

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