WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) told Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe that rural America should not be forgotten as decisions are made regarding the future of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in Washington, D.C. The USPS faces fiscal challenges, and in late July it released a list of 3,653 post offices across the nation that will be studied for potential closure. 134 of those post offices are in Kansas, and the vast majority are located in rural communities. The USPS is required to hold community meetings as a part of these studies.
“My experience in these community meetings is the Postal Service comes in, explains the plan, …but what I would love to know is if there are things that community members can say, evidence that can be garnered, a fact that can be told that would then alter the decision made by the Postal Service as to whether or not a particular community’s post office is going to continue to be in existence," Sen. Moran asked the Postmaster General during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
“I think the key is to make sure that our people understand exactly what the community would face with the change,” Postmaster General Donahoe responded. “One of the things we’ve got to keep our eye out for, and make sure that we don’t do, is make access impossible for people in states like Kansas."
Sen. Moran also asked the Postmaster General to make sure the community of Reading, KS, is being given fair treatment. Reading’s post office was not on the list of 134 Kansas offices to be studied for closure, but following the May 22, 2011 tornado that damaged many homes and most of the businesses in Reading – including the building that housed the post office – the Postal Service has held a community meeting to discuss the future of the post office.
“This is the wrong kind of message to tell a town that’s trying to figure out how it recovers from significant damage in a tornado, that now, because we suffered this natural disaster, the Postal Service is now contemplating closing our post office,” Sen. Moran told the Postmaster General.
In August, Senator Moran sent a letter to the Postmaster General citing a 2010 annual report to Congress by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The report claimed that for Fiscal Year 2009, only 0.7 percent of the USPS’s total budget was allocated to maintaining rural post offices. Sen. Moran believes reducing services to these communities will significantly impact rural citizens with little benefit to the Postal Service’s bottom line.
Click here to view Sen. Moran’s full exchange with Postmaster General Donahoe.