This past week, things were looking bright for rural post offices, brighter than anytime during the past year.
On Wednesday, May 9, U.S. Post Service Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced that the closure of thousands of rural post offices across the country will be put on hold.
Among those on the list is the Chromo post office.
“We’ve listened to our customers in rural America and we’ve heard them loud and clear — they want to keep their Post Office open,” Donahoe said in a USPS press release.
Of course, this is not because the USPS’s financial status has improved. USPS ended its second quarter with a net loss of $3.2 billion.
“The losses,” the USPS quarterly statement reads, “are due primarily to legislative mandates such as the unique mandated pre-funding of retiree health benefits, and prohibiting management from making the needed operational and human resource changes required to address these issues under current laws and contracts.”
Some of the operational and human resource changes mentioned include the closure of several thousand rural and urban post offices, as well as doing away with Saturday hours.
To still have some cutbacks and savings, while keeping the rural and urban post offices open, hours at the majority of the 13,000 post offices that had previously been under evaluation for closure will be cut back.
According to regional USPS spokesperson David Rupert, the post offices will be individually evaluated and the hours will be decided based on the work load of each office.
For the Chromo post office, though not definitely, the hours will probably be four instead of the standard eight hours. However, before any hours at any post office will be changed, the Postal Regulatory Commission must approve the changes.
According to Rupert, the $500,000 savings will be found in cutting personnel costs from full-time to part-time employees.
Yet, even with the USPS agreeing to keep post offices open if the community preference and support is there, Ronald Bamrick, the current Chromo postmaster, isn’t having it.
Bamrick leases space in the Chromo Mercantile building to the USPS to be used for the post office; he also is the postmaster.
“I’m going to shut the building down,” Bamrick said. “The reason is, I don’t have the money to run the building.”
Bamrick did not give a definite closure date, but did say that it would be well before 2013.
“I just don’t know what to do. I don’t have another choice,” Bamrick said.
If he were to keep the building open, Bamrick said he would need enough money to cover the costs of propane, electricity and snow removal — around $500 to $600 a month. According to Bamrick, the USPS, while he did not divulge the exact amount being received via the lease agreement, is giving him a “mere pittance.”
When asked about the Chromo post office and Bamrick’s position, Rupert could only say, “The post office will pay for our portion.”
Until the Postal Service receives formal notice from Bamrick regarding closure of the building, the evaluation will continue under normal circumstances. The next step: A town meeting will be held to go over the services, hours and options for the post office.