No Columbus-area post office is on a list of 677 sites the U.S. Postal Service will consider closing to save money, a Postal Regulatory Commission spokesman said Tuesday.
A list posted to the commission’s Web site could not be downloaded Monday night or Tuesday morning, leaving customers wondering whether their local post office might be shut down.
Norm Scherstrom, a media relations specialist with the commission, confirmed in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon that the only post offices in Georgia on the list of those to be studied for cost-savings were in Atlanta. The nearest offices in Alabama were in Montgomery.
He said the offices to be studied were in urban and suburban areas where services may be duplicated, not sites in small towns.
The Postal Service at this point is notifying the independent regulatory commission that it plans to study 677 sites for possible closure or consolidation of services, Scherstrom said. The commission will deliberate on the process the service uses to decide which offices are closed.
“This is just their internal evaluation, and they’re alerting us to that effect,” he said. The commission will want to know what criteria the service uses to close offices and whether the process if fair and transparent to the public. “That’s what we do with our advisory opinion,” he said.
According to the Associated Press, the Postal Service could lose $7 billion this fiscal year.
No changes are expected before Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. The service has 32,741 post offices.
The Postal Service has lost business because of the more rapid communication available on the Internet, and because the recession has reduced advertising mail. Its expenses increased last year because of high gas prices.
Last year mail volume fell by 9.5 billion pieces to a total 203 billion pieces. This year it’s expected to drop 28 billion pieces to a total 175 billion pieces.
The Government Accountability Office has added the Postal Service to its list of troubled agencies, saying the service faces significant financial challenges.“Every major postal policy, from employee pay, to days of delivery, to the closing of postal facilities must be on the table. Without major change, the day will soon come when the Postal Service will be unable to pay its bills,” the GAO said.
Postmaster General John Potter has asked Congress for permission to reduce mail delivery from six days a week to five.