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Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Postal Service to reduce hours in Burkettsville

By William Kincaid
BURKETTSVILLE - Several small post offices in the area are reducing hours of operation to help the financially strapped federal postal service save money.
A U.S. Postal Service representative on Tuesday announced Burkettsville's office will have its weekday hours cut in half to four hours - likely 12:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays - starting sometime in March. Saturday hours of 8 to 11:45 a.m. will remain.
More than two dozen residents attended the meeting.
"It's better than closing it," resident Kent Lorton said after the meeting in the basement of the St. Bernard Church, pointing out he uses the office nearly every day to send bill payments.
"The service will still be as good," Bob Redden, post office review coordinator for the Cincinnati district, told residents.
Surveys were sent to the 116 P.O. box holders in Burkettsville asking them if they would rather see the post office reduce hours; transfer its services to a nearby post office or set up in local retail business, town halls or government center; or opt for rural carrier roadside delivery.
Ninety-five percent of the 63 respondents indicated they would prefer a reduction of hours at the Burkettsville office.
"It's just something the post office has to do to stay fiscally viable," Sharon Stammen, the officer-in-charge of the Burkettsville office, said.
According to Redden, the Ansonia post office will take over the administration of the Burkettsville office in March. Stammen works for the Burkettsville and Ansonia offices and plans to stay on part time.
The Burkettsville post office, established in 1873, will join a growing list of small post offices reducing weekday hours of operation: North Star has been reduced to four, Kettlersville has been reduced to two, Palestine will reduce to two on Feb. 23; Russia and Jackson Center will be reduced to six in April; Rossburg likely will be reduced to six in the coming months; and Osgood and Yorkshire likely will be reduced to four in the future, Redden said.
No post office will close as long as its users continue to request service, he added.
"For the post office to be in a community, it has to give that community the opportunity to use it," he said.
Reducing operating hours is part of the post office's sweeping plan to consolidate urban facilities and cut costs wherever possible.
The salary and benefits of personnel make up the bulk of the postal service's costs, he said.
"The post office is a government-owned organization, (a) government-owned business but it's privately run," he said. "We run pretty much off the revenue that you spend. We do not draw one single tax dollar from state, federal, local."
Technology has changed the way people communicate with one another - online bill payments, email, etc. - and resulted in a reduction of paper deliveries through the mail and subsequently post office revenue, Redden said.
"We are a business that does not make anything," he added. "All we do is move your product and that product is paper."
Eight weeks ago the postal service hit its debt limit of $15 billion and is losing $25 million a day, he said.
"We are continually losing money," he said.
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