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Possible reprieve for eight local post offices

Published: Friday, April 27, 2012 6:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012 6:23 p.m. CDT

Residents in Bureau, Kasbeer, Van Orin, Dover, New Bedford, Mineral, Seatonville and Arlington have been given a possible reprieve on the proposed closing of their post offices.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to delay any decisions of closing post offices for a year, while giving the U.S. Postal Service $11 billion to help keep the struggling agency afloat. The bill would also halt the immediate closing of up about half of the 252 mail-processing centers the Postal Service wants to close, forbid any closures before the elections in November, give impacted communities new ways to appeal closing decisions, and ban cuts to Saturday delivery for two years.

The bill barely passed the Senate, squeaking by on a 62-37 vote.

Following the vote, Sen. Dick Durbin, who supported the bill, released the following statement:

“Over the last year, the Postmaster General has produced many desperate scenarios including the closure of nine Illinois processing facilities and more than 250 post offices. Today the Senate produced a bipartisan plan that will steer the Postal Service away from the worst scenario and help it adapt to current economic realities.”

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, which must pass legislation before the moratorium expires on May 15.

In July 2011, the Postal Service announced that eight Bureau County post offices were on the list for possible closing, part of the more than 3,600 retail offices nationwide that were to be studied to determine customers needs. According to the Postal Service, the review was necessary as “more customers choose to conduct their postal business online, on their smart phones and at their favorite shopping destinations.”

Eight public meetings were held in the county in late October, and public input was sought.Originally the final decision was to be announced in January, but in December 2011, the Postal Service voluntarily agreed to put in place a five-month moratorium on closing postal facilities. If the moratorium is allowed to expire, the Postal Service has said it plans to move forward with the elimination of overnight delivery and the closure of as many as 3,700 mostly rural post offices and more than 200 mail processing facilities, including at least eight in Illinois.

The Postal Service, which has announced it is losing $25 million per day, was not pleased with the vote.

In a statement issued following the vote, the Board of Governors of the Postal Service said it had worked for two years to prepare a comprehensive business plan to make the Postal Service viable.

According to the statement, “Given volume losses we have experienced over the past five years along with expected future trends, it is totally inappropriate in these economic times to keep unneeded facilities open. There is simply not enough mail in our system today. It is also inappropriate to delay the implementation of five-day delivery.”

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe also expressed his disapproval.

According to Donahoe’s statement, “Based on our initial analysis of the legislation passed today, losses would continue in both the short and long term. If this bill were to become law, the Postal Service would be back before the Congress within a few years requesting additional legislative reform.”

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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