The United States Postal Service (USPS) is considering closing the Downtown Davis Post Office along with approximately 3,600 other post offices across the nation. To compensate their struggles with decreasing revenue, the USPS also decided to increase postage stamp fees from 44 to 45 cents beginning Jan. 22.
A public meeting was held on Dec. 6, 2011 to inform the Davis community of the possible closure of the downtown post office.
“In the Sacramento District, which Davis is part of, there are 34 post offices on that list,” said USPS media contact for California Augustine Ruiz in an e-mail. “It is undetermined how many will actually be closed nationally, or in [the] Sacramento District.”
The Downtown Davis Post Office could not be reached for comment.
According to Ruiz, there are multiple factors that are taken into account when studying the potential closing of a post office.
“First and foremost, the community impact — how will we continue to provide valuable postal services to the general community if a post office is closed, what alternatives can we provide?” Ruiz said. “Employee impacts are another consideration — where do we move the affected employees; economic factors are a consideration. However, we are prohibited from closing a post office for purely economic reasons.”
Ruiz said despite the prohibition, majority of the post offices on the list don’t make enough revenue to cover their costs so economic issues are still factored in.
“America’s mailing habits have changed,” said U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in an interview with the Public Broadcasting Service. “In the year 2000, 5 percent of people paid bills online. Today, 60 percent pay bills online. And when you combine that with the loss that we have seen in advertising mail as part of the recession, we have lost about 23 percent of our total volume, 27 percent of first-class mail.”
Donahoe said first-class mail pays for the USPS’s bills. The USPS also does not take taxpayer money, so to recoup losses they are forced to take action.
“We have got to do other things, like consolidating facilities, reducing the number of routes we have out there, in order to close that gap,” Donahoe said.
Likewise, Ruiz said the severe decline in volume — thus, loss in revenue — has resulted in the USPS taking cost-cutting measures in order to remain stable.
On Dec. 5, 2011, the USPS proposed ending overnight delivery service for First-Class mail and periodicals. The U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is currently reviewing the proposal.
“[This] would instead provide two and three day delivery service,” said Chairman of the PRC Ruth Goldway in a statement. “The intent of these changes is to capture significant cost savings from the consolidation of the Postal Service’s mail processing and transportation networks.”
On Dec. 13, 2011, USPS agreed to the requests of multiple U.S. Senators to delay the closure or consolidation of post offices and mail processing facilities until May 15. The USPS said in a statement that in the meantime, it will comprehensively review the list and hold public input meetings.
“It is the things we do not control that bring us to this predicament,” Ruiz said. “And those things out of our control are within the control of Congress.”
CLAIRE TAN can be reached at email@example.com.