Meeting held in Twain to discuss possible post office closure
The residents of Twain gathered in the picnic grounds on a brisk Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to save the Twain post office. Tim Holabird from Congressman Tom McClintock’s office opened the meeting. He introduced District Distribution Manager Rick Burtzlaff and Sacramento Discontinuance Coordinator Sandra Raymond of the United States Postal Service and turned the meeting over to them.
Burtzlaff began by explaining the chain of events that brought the USPS to the point of closing 3,700 post offices nationwide. He cited lost revenue from Internet use, and went on to outline overpayments to pension plans that the federal government wasn’t reimbursing. Bottom line? The USPS has lost $20 billion in the last three years.
But the overall cause of lost revenue is the same sad tale heard from all over the country: a declining economy. The USPS is a self-sustaining entity. It is supposed to be able to pay its own way. The current economic situation combined with a drop in traffic has prompted the closure of 300 distribution plants — and the corresponding termination of employees. By 2015, the remaining 450 distribution plants will shrink to 200.
Burtzlaff then turned the meeting over to Raymond, who began to outline possible alternatives to closing the Twain post office. The first option is to leave the post office as it is with reduced hours (wages count for 83 percent of USPS operating costs). This option creates a problem with federal mandates. Apparently the postal service cannot just change hours of operation at will.
The next option would move the Twain post office into the next nearest office: Crescent Mills. Raymond, citing the travel distance, stated that such an option could not be considered due to federal mandates.
The next option would provide locked boxes in various locations to be serviced by a carrier from Quincy. This system would provide daily mail delivery, but stamp purchases and package processing would require a series of notes and money in the box with change provided the next day, or a trip to the nearest post office. There would also be a security issue caused by the public access to the boxes.
A fourth option would be a contract post office, or a “village post office.” Pete Dryer volunteered his store as a post office. Burtzlaff suggested that Dryer contact the retail division of the USPS to get the details and requirements for such a move. The Twain Store was the post office when Dryer first purchased it.
The Twain post office has an average operating cost of $25,000 a year with a return of about $8,000 a year. But Burtzlaff advised that operating at a loss was not the main consideration in a decision to close. Many post offices have a negative annual operating income and are not on the closure list.
One attendee suggested that if the post office became a federal agency it wouldn’t matter if it lost money — they all do.
Raymond outlined the four steps required to prevent the closure of a post office: First, fill out and return the questionnaire provided by the USPS; next, attend the review meeting; third, file an appeal within the 60-day period after a decision is made to close the office; finally, get in contact with the local congressman’s office for assistance in the appeal process.
Holabird, from McClintock’s office, and the District 2 Plumas County Supervisor Robert Meacher attended the meeting in support of Twain residents. A common opinion voiced by attending residents was that the USPS was handcuffed by its own regulations and size when implementing commonsense cost-cutting measures.