Lake County post offices to cut window hours
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Officials with the U.S. Postal Service have announced a reduction in retail-window operating hours for three Lake County post offices. The new operating-hour schedules go into effect on Feb. 23.|
The USPS has decided to reduce the weekday operating hours at the Chester, Ramona and Nunda post offices after officials held meetings in those communities on Jan. 17.
The schedule changes are supposed to only affect the window hours at the post offices during weekdays. Patrons are supposed to have the same access to post office boxes, collections and mail delivery.
The new schedules for these Lake County post offices are:
-- Chester; Monday through Friday, 12:30-4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.
-- Ramona; Monday through Friday, 7:45-11:45 a.m.; Saturday, 7:45-9:45 a.m.
-- Nunda; Monday through Saturday, 12:30-2:30 p.m.
For Chester, the new schedule means that the post office will open its retail window one hour later on weekdays and it will stay open two hours later on Saturdays.
For Ramona, the major change involves the elimination of afternoon operating hours.
For Nunda, the schedule change eliminates morning operating hours on weekdays and Saturdays.
Before the community meetings were held in Chester, Ramona and Nunda, the USPS had sent out letters and surveys to local patrons announcing changes to their post offices' operating hours. The schedule changes typically go into effect about three months after the letters are sent to the patrons. The surveys are typically sent to patrons about two months before each community meeting.
USPS officials also plan to change the operating schedules at the Oldham, Wentworth and Winfred post offices, but the community meetings are not yet scheduled for those towns.
In May 2012, the USPS issued a press release announcing that the rescheduling would provide "a framework to achieve significant cost savings as part of the plan to return the organization to financial stability."
Previously, the U.S. Postal Service had announced a plan to close up to 3,700 low-revenue post offices after May 15, 2012. However, opposition from the affected communities -- mostly in rural areas -- moved Postal Service officials to initiate a different plan to reduce operating hours at more than 13,000 rural post offices. The new plan that was unveiled last May was called the Post Office Structure Plan, or POST Plan. At the time, the announced reduction in window hours ranged from two to six hours each day.
The Postal Service has indicated that it will continue to phase in schedule changes during the next two years. After the new operating schedules go into effect nationwide, USPS officials have said that the agency should reduce its expenses by $500 million annually.
Last year, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donohue said the the USPS would have seen a profitable year if Congress had taken action instead of having operated in gridlock. In 2006, Congress ordered the USPS to prefund 75 years in future health-care benefits to retirees, requiring the organization to make those payments within a 10-year timespan. That federal legislation, which only affected the USPS, directed the USPS to deposit $5 billion each year into its retiree benefits system.