The United States Postal Service will hold a meeting on July 16 at the Ranburne Senior Center to gather feedback from area residents about a plan to cut the post office’s window hours from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. each weekday to six hours a day.
Despite the rain Monday afternoon, a steady flow of customers came and went from the Ranburne Post Office before closing time.
Some said they frequented the post office two or three times a week. Some said they came rarely. But most felt like a plan that would reduce the hours at the Ranburne office would be a hardship for a number of reasons.
“I can barely get here as it is,” said Brianna Neill, a fifteen-year-old student at Ranburne High.
Between her mother’s work and her school hours, if the post office closed any earlier, she might not make it at all, Neill said.
Cecil Warren worried for the employees who might see a reduction in hours.
“Why would they raise the price of stamps and then cut people back?” he asked.
Ranburne resident Darrell Teal though said he understood.
The United States Postal Service is a business and businesses have had to cut back, he said.
“They’ve got to cut back, cut hours and cut overheard,” Teal said. “Payroll is usually the biggest expense.”
Ranburne is one of the last 45 post offices in Alabama to go through the community survey process, said Debra Fetterly, sposkeswoman for USPS Alabama district.
“We’re kind of at the tail end of the process now,” she In Cleburne County, Muscadine, Fruithurst and Edwardsville have already gone through this process, said Ranburne Postmaster Tim Hall.
The Ranburne office brings in more than $100,000 a year in revenue, Hall said.
But the changes are based on deliveries. Ranburne delivers to 1,422 households and businesses, according to the USPS website.
In early June, residents of the Ranburne delivery district received surveys in the mail asking them to choose their preference – reduced hours and if so what hours, closure with the post office relocating to a host business or a nearby post office or a complete closure with the town receiving only roadside delivery.
A letter accompanying the survey said that unless the responses showed more than 60 percent wanted to close the post office, the office would remain open with reduced hours.
The reduced hours would not affect delivery or customer access to their post office boxes. It will however affect the hours customers can do business with the staff at the window.
Ranburne will be joining some 200 post offices across the state that have already had their hours reduced in the last two years, Fetterly said. “The good thing is the post office isn’t going to close,” she said.
For the past several years, the postal service has been working to become more efficient as it has seen a decline in mail volume, she said. It announced in June 2011 that it was considering closing 3,700 post offices nationwide. After receiving feedback from customers in surveys and community meetings, the postal service is now moving to reduced hours rather than closures, Fetterly said.
She said that customers who have not yet filled out their surveys are invited to bring them to the meeting on July 16 at 5 p.m..
Charlene Jones said she comes to the post office once or twice a week to pick up packages or mail things. Jones said, she’d be sorry to see a reduction in hours, but she’s happy to have a choice.
“If they do anything, I’d rather them cut the hours than close it up completely,” Jones said.