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Postal hours cut

9/9/2013

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

After languishing for several months, the U.S. Postal Service has started conducting a few community meetings in Kansas to talk about reducing hours at post offices.

One of the upcoming meetings is set for noon Sept. 17 at State Bank of Downs.

The upcoming meeting and others like it, according to USPS spokesman Brian Sperry, involve post offices with career postmasters on the job.

The first round of community meetings -- originally designed to discuss the prospect of reducing window hours -- focused on post offices where postmasters weren't considered career employees.

Most of those post offices had what is called an officer-in-charge, someone who had been assigned to manage the office in the absence of a full-time postmaster. Many of the officers in charge, however, have been full-time employees from other post offices.

"As postmasters retire, or take a position elsewhere, community meetings are held," Sperry said of the schedule affecting post offices. "That's the case in Downs."

The reduction in window hours is just one of the many moves the postal service has taken to stem the flow of red ink on its balance sheets.

Still, USPS continues losing money, reporting a net loss of $740 million for the quarter ending June 30. For the year, the loss amounts to $3.9 billion.

It's also suffering from a "severe lack of liquidity," according to its latest financial statement.

As of June 30, it had used up its entire $15 billion debt capability and as of mid-October it expects to have enough cash on hand to fund just five days of average daily expenses.

"This low level of available cash means that the Post Service will be unable to make the $5.6 billion legally-mandated pre-funding of retiree health benefits due by Sept. 30," the report said. "Further, this level of cash could be insufficient to support operations in the event of another significant downturn in mail volume."

With the quarterly loss, USPS has had seven consecutive quarters of net losses and 16 of the last 18.

The Postal Service also continues to implement efficiency measures and continues its actions to better align staffing levels with projected mail volume.

It could have been worse, the agency claims, pointing to cuts it has implemented.

Those cuts include consolidating 104 mail processing facilities, reducing hours at 7,397 post offices, and reducing employee work hours by nearly 10 million hours.

Hays and Colby mail processing centers were among those cut. Hays was folded into the Wichita processing center while Colby was rolled into the processing center in North Platte, Neb.

Community meetings and window hour reductions already have been made at: Agra, Alexander, Almena, Alton, Brownell, Bunker Hill, Cedar, Collyer, Damar, Dorrance, Edson, Gaylord, Gorham, Gove, Grainfield, Grinnell, Healy, Herndon, Jennings, Kanorado, Lenora, Lucas, Luray, McCracken, McDonald, Morland, Natoma, Ransom, Sleden, Sylvan Grove, Waldo, Weskan, Winona and Woodston.

In addition to Downs, that leaves Bazine, Bird City, Bison, Bogue, Brewster, Catharine, Downs, Kirwin, Logan, Long Island, Norcatur, Otis, Palco, Paradise, Portis, Prairie View, Rexford, Rush Center, Utica and Wilson post offices left.

All those should be completed by September 2014, Sperry said.