Postal Service delays closings

Patrons of the Carleton and Byron post offices, the two Thayer County offices targeted for closing in the latest round of downsizing by the U.S. Postal Service, will now have a little more time to gear up for battle. Most of that battle has to do with revenue, the walk-in kind, not the retail kind, both communities were told earlier this year.

In fact, USPS senior manager of Nebraska and Kansas post office operations, Howard Nissen, suggested patrons could quite possibly help keep their respective offices open if they improved the frequency with which they used the window. “If you purchase an individual stamp, that’s considered one transaction,” he said, “and if you buy a book of stamps, it’s still considered one transaction. This post office (Byron) was ‘tagged’ because there is less than two hours of workload for the postmaster and revenue taken at the counter is less than $27,000 for the year.”

Separate bills passed by the House and Senate committees would give the Postal Service more authority to reduce delivery to five days a week, raise stamp prices and reduce health care and other labor costs. The Senate bill would give back approximately $7 billion overpaid into a federal retirment fund by the Postal Service. The bill would also encourage restructuring of its health benefits packages and reduce the annual payments into a future retiree health account. The agency is the only business required to make these types of prepayments.

For now, targeted offices and sorting centers will be left alone until May 15, the U.S. Postal Service announced. The hope is that Congress will have more time to pass legislation allowing the agency more authority and liquidity to hold off bankruptcy.

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