Rep: Ross: Post Office closings delayed

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 64 views 

Editor’s note: Roby Brock, with our content partner Talk Business, wrote this report. He can be reached at [email protected]

Two of Arkansas’ four Congressmen are making announcements likely to play well in rural parts of the state.

On Tuesday, (Nov. 8), U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, announced on his Twitter feed that the U.S. Postal Service will “temporarily suspend” all post office closings nationwide from Nov. 19 – Jan. 2.

While no formal announcement on the moratorium has been made by USPS officials, Ross’ office has received a letter disclosing the delay.

The USPS on Sept. 15 announced a national plan that includes the study of about 250 processing facilities for possible consolidation or closure, reducing mail processing equipment by as much as 50%, decreasing the nationwide transportation network, cutting up to 35,000 jobs, and revising service standards for first-class mail and periodicals.

The new study has also halted the transfer of mail processing from Fort Smith to Fayetteville. The Labor Day weekend plans to begin shifting sorting machines from Fort Smith to Little Rock has been put on hold pending the outcome of the new national plan. The USPS announced April 18 it would move mail processing from Fort Smith to Fayetteville.

Closures of post office facilities in Arkansas and across the country have been the source of outrage by many communities who contend that the USPS has not had a consistent plan for systematic closures. There have also been complaints that closing facilities in rural communities could impact local economies and services to citizens.

Ross’ declaration was followed by a media advisory from U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, who is introducing legislation to prohibit the USPS from closing rural post offices that do not have “an alternative post office within eight miles accessible by public roads.”

Both Ross and Crawford cover districts with the largest land mass in the state and both Congressmen represent more rural parts of Arkansas.

“The First Congressional District stands to lose 100 post offices,” said Crawford. “The Protecting Our Rural Post Offices Act will make sure rural Americans keep access to postal services. Americans living in rural communities rely on their post office for medicine deliveries, social security benefits and countless other reasons. Access to postal services should not be limited to only urban areas.”

Last year, the USPS ran an estimated deficit of nearly $10 billion, according to Crawford. He contends that the massive closures planned by the federal agency would only result in a savings of $200 million a year.

“The real source of the USPS’ long term debt is soaring labor costs that make up 80% of their total costs. This must be addressed,” Crawford said.