Four weeks ago, Leesburg residents were mailed a survey from the United States Postal Service seeking input on the realignment of local post office hours. Today, the public had an opportunity to ask questions about the changes.
Tangela Bush, manager of Post Office Operations, conducted a public meeting at Leesburg Town Hall this afternoon which had about a dozen residents in attendance. Bush said the USPS is reviewing 13,000 offices nationwide to compensate for the loss or First Class postage.
“We’re just not getting the First Class postage anymore,” Bush explained, noting that technology like cell phones and the Internet have severely affected the need for the USPS services. “Word of mouth means a lot … people don’t even have to come to the post office (for most communications) so we have to adjust.”
The USPS announced it is projecting a $14 billion net loss in Fiscal Year 2012. By implementing changes like reduced hours and creating village post office locations, Bush said the USPS is estimating it will save a half billion dollars next year.
Plans being put into effect now will be in place through 2014 then will be reviewed.
Bush said of the 2,225 surveys mailed in Leesburg, 527 were returned. Of those, 359 prepared to keep the post office open but with adjusted hours. Only 5 percent were in favor of the village post office option, which utilizes a business, library or town hall to serve as the post office but be operated by the proprietor.
Village post offices serve solely as a place to purchase stamps and would be an asset to the community for the convenience, according to Bush.
The proposed hours for the Leesburg Post Office will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday which Saturday window hours unchanged. Current Saturday window hours are 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Lobby hours have not yet been determined and Bush said a postal inspector will need to visit the Leesburg Post Office to determine if 24-hour lobby access to post office boxes would even be possible.
The proposed realigned hours presented today, according to Bush, reflect recommended hours by those who returned the surveys.
A final determination on the proposed hours will made next Wednesday and a notice will be posted at the Leesburg Post Office. The hours will then go into effect 30 days from the initial posting.
In May, the USPS announced plans to consolidate its network of 461 mail processing locations, another result of drastically reduced mail volumes. Consolidations, when completed by early 2013, will reduce the size of the postal service workforce by approximately 13,000 employees and, when fully implemented, will generate cost reductions of approximately $1.2 billion annually.
The USPS has reduced the size of its workforce by 244,000 career employees since 2000.
Locally, Bush called it “a personal option” for the Leesburg Post Office employees whether they want to seek new employment or stay with reduced hours.