Penfield post office may reduce hours|
Thursday, November 15, 2012
By Ian Erickson Staff Writer
PENFIELD - Last night, a public hearing was held at the Penfield Grange concerning the cut in operating hours of the Penfield post office. Terri Roddy, manager of post office operations, and Mike Golemboski, DuBois postmaster, spoke to more than 40 residents in attendance.
Roddy opened by saying that about four weeks ago the postal service sent surveys about POST Plan realignment to the community, and posted information at the post office. She said that 649 surveys were mailed, and 221 were returned.
Results of the survey are as follows:
• 194 residents (88 percent) would prefer realignment of hours.
• nine residents (4 percent) would prefer delivery, with a box being placed at rural addresses.
• two residents (1 percent) would prefer a village post office. A village post office is located within existing communities in a variety of locations such as retailers, libraries, town halls, etc. Village post offices can sell stamps, mail flat-rate packages, and house P.O. boxes for residents.
• three residents (1 percent) would prefer a nearby post office. Nearby post offices would be located in Force, 5.5 miles; Weedville, 6.8 miles; and Byrnedale, 7.5 miles.
• 13 residents (6 percent) had no selection.
From the survey results, it is predicted that the hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon, and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Roddy said that residents requested these hours, but they won't take effect until at least next spring or summer.
Roddy discussed some of the reasons why post offices, like Penfield, have to reduce the hours they are operating. "The postal service, like many other businesses today, is facing serious financial challenges," she said.
She noted that the postal service is not tax-supported, and money to collect and transport mail comes from the sales of stamps and other products. Roddy said that many people now do transactions and shopping through the Internet, which they used to do through mail. This means that fewer stamps are purchased and less postage is paid. More than 40 billion transactions are now gone and facilities have had to be consolidated, according to Roddy.
In addition, she said that postmaster positions are being eliminated in the two, four or six-hour post offices, and small post offices don't have enough business to have eight-hour shifts anymore.
Following Roddy's discussion, residents were given the opportunity to ask questions while Golemboski wrote them down. Today, the results from this meeting will be delivered to Pittsburgh for a board of postal inspectors, etc. to review them. Within a week, information will be posted at the Penfield post office.
The first question was about the Internet taking away business, even though the postal service advertises using the Internet. Roddy said that we can't be completely opposed to technology because it's not going away. She said that they are still making money from online things. For example, she said that if someone buys stamps online, they can type in the Penfield ZIP code and that post office will get credit for the sale.
A resident asked how he could make it to the post office when he works during the proposed new hours. Roddy said they would put lockers in the lobby and residents would be given their own key. This locker would be for mail and even packages. She said they aren't sure how this will work for certified letters with a return, but they will figure out a system. Roddy also noted there will probably be lobby hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with automatic locks.
Finally, a resident asked why the postal service struggles to compete with UPS. Roddy said that parcel packages are actually on the rise for post offices because they are delivering half of UPS's and FedEx's. She said, "If you order online, you ship it UPS, and generally you pay a UPS fee and then they turn it around and give us a portion."
Roddy noted that the Clearfield post office gets three pallets of packages at a time. She said, "We are trying everything we can to compete."