Cutting Post Office hours meets with approval in Shandaken meeting
By Jay Braman
According to surveys conducted by the United States Postal Service in Highmount, Pine Hill and Big Indian, most of the residents in those hamlets see reducing the number of hours the post offices are open as the least painful change.
That’s according to Neil Fitzpatrick, a representative from the Post Office that came to Shandaken Town Hall Monday night to discuss plans for changing things in those communities.
The “Post Plan”
Those changes, he said, are coming for sure and probably by the end of this year. It’s all about trying to keep the USPS operating while is expecting a $10 billion shortfall nationwide.
Fitzpatrick spoke to several in attendance about “the Post Plan,” which is the latest strategy devised. It will only save about $500 million a year, he said, but he believes it is a good start.
“I’ll just say the future is bright,” he said. “Nobody is closing any Post Offices up here.”
But, those places will not be open all day anymore. They will be open for over the counter business for fours a day and for another four hours the lobby will be open so people can get to their PO Boxes. They will remain open on Saturdays too. He also said there is a possibility that some of the locations may only be open for two hours per day for over the counter business, or perhaps six. But whatever it ends up being people will be notified at least 30 in advance of the changes.
Fitzpatrick pointed out that the Post Plan does not impact rural mail deliver service, so if you get your mail delivered to a mail box at your house nothing about that service will change.
Fitzpatrick said USPS sent out 435 surveys between Highmount and Big Indian and got back 131 of them. Of those the vast majority said that changing the hours of operation was the best the best way to go if something was going to be done.
But one Big Indian resident, Jeff Lasko, who happens to own the building that USPS rents for use as the Hamlets Post office and whose wife works in that Post Office, says that no changes are necessary.
Lasko claims that Federal law requires that Post Offices remain open. He also takes issue with another part of the Post Plan: that of doing away with full time employees and their benefits and hiring part timers to man the Post offices.
Lasko believes part timers will not do a good job.
Also on Monday, the Shandaken Town Board authorized Supervisor Rob Stanley to work with Lasko to draft a town resolution asking Congress to take action that would lead to all Post Offices staying open with full hours of operation with full time employees.
A representative from Congressman Chris Gibson’s office was at the meeting and said the Congressman will “work with” whatever information he receives.