|9/24/2013 12:27:00 PM|
Changes coming to post office
By Linda HansonA crowd of about 60 people took their seats in the Camp Sherman Community Hall last Monday evening and listened attentively as Lisa Ebner, the manager of postal operations out of Portland, described the changes coming to the historic Camp Sherman Post Office.
Accompanied by her assistant, Janice Conrad, Ms. Ebner did her best to make clear the reasoning behind the coming reduction in postal service hours in Camp Sherman from the current eight to four hours Monday through Friday. The changes will go into effect October 21.
Ebner had the floor for over an hour, during which time she explained that service reductions have taken place in village post offices throughout the country, ranging from shortened hours, as in Camp Sherman, to actual closure in many communities. Staffing decisions are based primarily on revenue and postal volume and in some cases the distance to the nearest alternative post office options. Because the nearest post office alternative is in Sisters 18 miles away, Camp Sherman will be allowed to stay open, although with greatly reduced hours.
Ebner took pains to explain how the postal service, which has been run as a business since the mid-1970s, went from functioning as a profit-making success to the present hard times in the matter of a few years. The problems have been brought on by several factors:
Reduction in first-class postage volume. (Most of us send email rather than letters, and we pay our bills online.)
Lack of access to federal funds. The postal service is required to run on it's own profits and cannot request or accept money from the federal government.
"We cannot be bailed out," said Ebner.
Congressionally imposed restrictions prevent top management from making changes, such as raising postal rates and/or shipping wine and spirits.
The mandate imposed by Congress in 2006 requiring the postal service to pre-fund retirement and medical payments 75 years into the future, resulting in a charge of nearly $5.5 billion per year. This charge accounts for nearly 70 percent of postal service losses.
When asked, the group voted with a show of hands that the exact hours of opening should be determined by Postmaster Denise Opsahl.
Opsahl has decided on 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Package delivery and pickup occurs at 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday. The next hour-and-a-half allows time for residents to pick up packages and plenty of time to get them into the office. The lobby and access to post office boxes will continue to be accessible 24 hours, seven days a week. Some physical changes such as the addition of parcel boxes in the lobby and a larger mail box outside the existing building will also go into effect.
The service reduction in Camp Sherman is here to stay for at least a year until the next review of usage, volume, and revenue. When the audience asked if there were actions to be taken that might reinstate the longer working day, it was suggested that residents increase usage, especially sending more packages, and write Congressional representatives urging changes, especially in the pre-funding requirement.
More information may be found at www.govexec.com (type USPS in the search box) and http://about.usps.com.
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