Brownville Postal Patrons Express Concerns About Possibly Losing Their Post Office; Steps to Follow
More than 50 Brownville U.S. Postal Service patrons shared concerns about the future of their post office Wednesday night, Oct. 19, at the Brownville Village Hall.
The Brownville post office is among 90 in Nebraska and 3,700 across the United States being studied by U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to determine customer needs. The facilities are being studied based on declining workload and insufficient customer demand.
“Brownville has a lot of things going for it. It is a unique community and will be noted as so. Your passion for your community is a good thing,” said Ron Reilly, postmaster at Columbus, Neb., who moderated the session.
He said that included: Cooper Nuclear Station, the village’s tourism attractions and Brownville is the oldest community in Nebraska.
Comments presented by postal patrons included: the Brownville post office is easily accessible; concerns that closing the office would have on businesses; many people use the post office daily; it is harder for older patrons to get out; many bulk mailings go out from the Brownville post office, such as from Cooper Nuclear Station, the Brownville Historical Society and the Brownville Village Theatre; what it would take the keep the post office open and that Brownville’s historical attractions should weigh into the decisions.
When asked about how much closing the Brownville post office would save, Reilly said that it would be about $270,000 over 10 years. He said that the office’s revenue has dropped the last couple of years. No fiscal 2011 figures are available, because fiscal 2011 recently ended, Reilly said.
“We understand the impact the U.S. Postal Service has on a community, but the people make the community, not the post office,” Reilly said.
He said that many community meetings are being conducted in communities with a high proportion of retired residents.
The postal patrons were informed about how the USPS would provide effective and regular service to Brownville should the office be closed.
Reilly said that a rural carrier would deliver the mail in Brownville. He said that the rural carrier provides effective and regular service. Reilly said that nothing would change with rural delivery. The community name and the 68321 ZIP code will not change. However, he said, patrons who receive their mail at the post office will have their mailing addresses changed, he said.
Postal patrons would miss certain options available at a post office, he said. Many people go to the post office to socialize. Community bulletin boards are often found at offices, as well as school bus stops.
When a post office is closed, Reilly said that postal officials may install cluster postal boxes and roadside boxes in front of residences. USPS officials ask the community officials provide space for the cluster boxes, he said.
Another alternative USPS officials have discussed are village post offices. Reilly said that the village post office concept is a contract between a private business owner and postal officials. Village post offices are operated by a community business to provide select postal products and services, including stamps and flat rate packaging.
Reilly said that there are four things Brownville postal patrons can do during the study:
1. Complete a survey.
2. Complete a petition.
3. Write letters promoting their community and
4. Contact U.S. Sens. Mike Johanns and Ben Nelson and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry.
Emily Brummond, Omaha director of constituent services for Johanns and Ryan Broker, field representative for Fortenberry, attended the meeting. Reilly said that representatives of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation are invited to attend the community meetings.
“We want them to have first-class information on what is going on. Congressional representatives are sensitive to your concerns. There is a fair and transparent and due process to this activity,” he said.
Reilly said when he was asked that he was unsure about the anticipated increase in revenues with plans to raise the cost of stamps and post cards in early 2012. Stamps will increase a penny to 45 cents. Post cards will increase three cents to 32 cents.
“Times are real tough. We’re trying hard to right the ship. We hope everyone understands the situation we’re in,” Reilly said.
He said that USPS loses $27 million daily, lost $10 billion in fiscal 2011 and the deficit has grown to $22 billion the last four years. First class mail has decreased 28 percent the last four years because more patrons are using electronic communications. Reilly said USPS officials are trying to combat financial losses. Operating expenses were reduced by about $12 billion annually and 110,000 employees have left USPS. He said that 80 percent of the postal service’s operating expenses are employees. USPS officials have requested to Congress that mail delivery be cut from six to five days a week. Reilly said that the postal service would save $3 billion if delivery was cut to five days a week. As of 2006, USPS officials are mandated to fund future retiree health benefits.
“We’re the only government business agency asked to prefund future retirees’ health benefits,” he said.
USPS, which was started in 1971, receives no tax dollars for operating expenses. The postal service relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
The Brownville meeting was among several in Southeast Nebraska communities. Other recent meetings were at Table Rock, Shubert, Verdon and Stella. Meetings are scheduled at Dawson, Elk Creek and DuBois.