Milano residents asked for input on post office fate

Hours cutback, closing listed among options
Reporter Editor

Milano postal customers are being asked for their opinions on the future of the community’s post office, specifically whether they would be willing to accept reduced office hours or closing it for good.

Surveys are showing up in mailboxes listing four options for the Milano facility.

Three of the four options would start the procedure rolling to close the Milano Post Office, retaining home delivery and offering postal services through other means.

The fourth, which is proving to be the most popular among communities in similar situations, is to cut back window hours from eight to four daily.

A meeting for Milano postal patrons to answer questions about the survey is set for 12-noon Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the Cameron Chamber of Commerce, 102 East First Street.

ZIP CODE—“ What we’re finding in similar situations (to Milano) is that customers don’t object to cutting back on window hours so long as they get to keep their post office open and retain their zip code,” Sam Bolen, U. S. Postal Service spokesman, told The Reporter.

That’s the first option on the survey, cutting weekday hours by half while retaining Saturday window service.

Here are the other three:

• Close the post office and provide “roadside” services (stamps, money orders and some others) through rural carriers or “alternate access points.”

• Close the post office and find a suitable alternative location for retail transactions at a local business, which would contract with the post office.

• Close the post office and relocate postal box services through a nearby post office (Milano is approximately eight miles from Rockdale and 12 from Cameron).

‘POST’ PLAN—The survey is an outgrowth of the post office’s initial plans last year to close over 3,700 locations nationwide and close or consolidate 230 mail processing centers, faced with rapidly plummeting use in the instant communications era.

Those plans met widespread opposition and were replaced by the “POST Plan,” which is referenced in the cover letter Milano postal patrons are receiving with the survey.

Under the POST Plan, 13,900 of the nation’s smallest post offices are to be cut to part-time, a move the USPS said will slice a $1.2-billion expense to $700,000.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said by 2016, the USPS wants to reduce its operating costs by $22.5 billion and reduce its 545,000 work force by an additional 120,000 by the end of 2015.

Over the past five years the USPS has reduced its work force by more than 110,000.

CHANGES—Bolen said even some of the scenarios floated in the alternatives to close smaller post offices are already in evidence.

“You can buy stamps at many more places than post offices now,” he noted. “And about 90 percent of the window business at smaller post offices is in stamps.”

Many customers still express a preference for rental boxes, he said.

Although survey results will be known prior to the public meeting Oct. 16, a final decision on the Milano Post Office won’t be made until afterwards, the USPS said.

OTHERS—The fol lowing Milam County post offices are also targeted for weekday office hour cutbacks:

• Gause, 8 to 4 hours.

• Buckholts, 8 to 4 hours.

• Davilla, 8 to 2 hours.

• Burlington, 4 to 2 hours.

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