Public Hearing Held On Buckeye Post Office Closing
Buckeye, WV – The U.S. Postal Service is in dire financial condition and is taking measures to pay its debts and reduce its deficit. The USPS, the nation’s number two employer behind Walmart, has eliminated 110,000 jobs through attrition and laid off 3,700 managers in an effort to save money. But the agency is losing about $10 billion dollars every year and is considering closing processing centers and 3,700 smaller post offices throughout the U.S. to save more money.
As part of its planning process to close small post offices, USPS is conducting public meetings to provide information to and hear concerns from affected residents. USPS operations manager Bill Akers met with 60 Buckeye residents on November 9 to discuss the possible closure of the Buckeye Post Office. Akers manages 176 post offices in southeastern West Virginia. Akers told the crowd that no decision had been made about their post office.
“I’ll tell you right off the bat, no decision has been made,” he said. “Part of the study is community meetings. Part of the study is for me to listen to your concerns and questions. That’s where it’s at at this point.”
The manager explained that things changed for the Post Office in 1971, when Congress eliminated tax subsidies for the agency.
“After ’71, that all went away,” he said. “That means no tax dollars go into the post office. I want to repeat that because that’s a stickler. People always ask me that question. No tax dollars go into the post office.”
Akers told the group that the reduced volume of first class mail has been a crippling blow to the Postal Service.
“The monopoly that we have is with first class mail,” he said. “That’s what makes our money. And to kind of give you some statistics on that – since 2001, we’ve almost lost 50-percent of that volume. We’re losing about seven to nine percent of first class mail volume every year. Facebook, Twitter, email – all those platforms have taken and eroded mail.”
The manger explained that closing all the post offices on the list will save the USPS less than one-percent of the money it needs to balance its books.
“That’s just a little piece of the pie,” he said. “That just about one-percent of the money we need. It’s not a whole lot. It really isn’t. It’s not as much as you would think. Closing the mail processing center in Roanoke’s going to be more savings than all of the post offices we’re talking about closing in West Virginia.”
Akers said Congress has the power to intervene and stop post office closings, but that representatives are reluctant to sponsor another bailout.
“We had bailouts with the car industry and the bank industry,” he said. “A lot of people weren’t too happy. A lot of taxpayers were not very happy. They are looking at this thing. A lot of people are saying, ‘we’re not going to put the money in, throw the money in out of our tax dollars for the post office.'”
Buckeye resident Walt Weiford read a letter from Representative Nick Rahall, in which the democratic congressman states he is pressuring the USPS to keep West Virginia rural post offices open. But two republican congressmen have sponsored a bill that would require the USPS to close post offices and fire employees.
House resolution 2309, sponsored by republicans Darrell Issa of California and Dennis Ross of Florida, was approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 13. If the bill becomes law, USPS would be authorized to fire 220,000 workers, including 26,000 veterans, and required to reduce spending by $3 billion within two years.
Akers said closing the Buckeye office would save the USPS $69,400 over 10 years. The manager said Buckeye’s 47 post office box customers would have the option to request rural delivery. He said cluster boxes are another option, and that persons with disabilities or those unable to drive would have the option of applying for delivery to the door.
Postal services could be provided at what the USPS calls a “village post office,” if a local store agreed to host the service. The owner of Buckeye Country Mart was present at the meeting and Akers gave him information on the requirements to host a village post office.
Akers said his recommendation on post office closings would carry weight, but that a district manager in Washington, D.C. would make the final decision. He said he would strongly consider the needs of the Buckeye community in making his recommendation.