Delivering On Post Office Reform

There used to be four post offices in the town of Carroll – Ivory, Fentonville, Frewsburg and Dodge.

Four post offices were needed because travel made it difficult for people to get to Frewsburg to pick up their mail. As travel became easier, there was less need for the smaller, rural post offices. Now, there is only one post office in the town of Carroll, located on Main Street, Frewsburg. According to Donna Spencer, Frewsburg postmaster, the Frewsburg post office has a solid base of post office box rentals and hasn’t had to think about cutting hours yet.

The Frewsburg post office is an example of what can happen when an operation is right-sized for current economic and mail needs.

The U.S. Postal Service should take a lot of the blame for its current financial situation. But we shouldn’t forget that seemingly every postal reform bill that comes before Congress is discarded. A few years ago, the postmaster general wanted to close the Buffalo mail sorting facility and shift its work to Rochester, only to see Congress say no. All the furor over cutting mail delivery from six days to five days a week was all for naught because Congress won’t allow the postal service to cut delivery days. Don’t even think about using the town of Carroll model and close any of the small, rural post offices that still exist. Congress will only let the postmaster general cut hours, not eliminate branches.

If Congress is serious about eliminating yearly deficits in the postal service, it must figure out a way to decrease the cost of health care for employees, either by allowing the postal service to cut the number of employees or changing the plan to lower the cost. As much as many don’t want to hear it, small, low-volume post offices will probably have to close and mail sorting facilities will have to be consolidated. Ending Saturday delivery of regular mail, which could save $2 billion, needs to happen.

For those who have already forgotten, the postal service lost $16 billion in 2012. It’s as if Congress is so used to running its own billion-dollar deficits they think the postal service should run deficits too. Only in Congress is such thinking acceptable. It shouldn’t be.