USPS officials report Charlotte Post Office most likely will see reduction in retail window hours

Charlotte Post Office

Charlotte Post Office

Postal officials faced a room of 30-40 angry Charlotte residents who don’t want to see a reduction in hours at the town’s post office during a public meeting last Thursday. While an official final decision has not been made, postal officials said the most likely change will be reducing the hours of operation to six hours a weekday by closing the retail window for a two-hour lunch. Tracy Mofield, manager of post office operations for Middle Tennessee, said most of the surveys the postal service received favored the option of realigning hours over three other proposals that involved closing the Charlotte Post Office. Based on those responses, Mofield said retail hours for the Charlotte Post Office likely will be 8 am-4 pm weekdays with the window closed 11 am-1 pm for lunch while Saturday retail hours remain unchanged at 8 am-noon. Mofield said the reduction of retail hours is one hour per weekday and will not affect the delivery of mail or access to post office boxes. He said the postal service sent out 2,593 surveys to residents in the 37036 zip code and 593 were returned. Eighty-four percent indicated a preference for realigning hours, while six percent favored one of three other options that involve closing the office and 11 percent did not indicate a preference. “The option that’s not on there is ‘leave our post office as it is, leave it open eight hours a day and we don’t want any changes.’ That would be the overwhelming choice and we understand that. Unfortunately, that’s not an option,” Mofield said. The postal officials present at Thursday’s meeting said the changes are part of the nationwide POST plan to cut costs in the postal service, which has been losing billions of dollars a year due to dwindling business for the last decade and a Congressional mandate to pre-fund benefits for retirees. “It’s not secret the financial difficulty that the postal service has experienced over the last 10 years. We’ve gone through about a 25-30 percent reduction in first-class volume over that time frame due to email, online bill-paying, the decline in the economy, several factors that attributed to that decline in mail volume. But, nonetheless, we don’t expect to ever get back to the volume levels that we once experienced,” Mofield said. But customers attending Thursday said they can’t see how reducing the hours at the Charlotte Post Office, which serves the county seat with two courthouses, the jail, four schools and other government operations, will create a significant savings. Steve Crews, manager of delivery support, said the proposal in Charlotte would be to move the current full-time officer in charge with salary and benefits of about $75,000 back to the Ashland City Post Office, then hire a part-time postmaster for Charlotte at $18.50 an hour plus benefits for a total cost of about $36,000. Patton said the only way to keep the office open and possibly restore full hours in the future is to increase business by buying stamps and other services. Even online purchases that enter the Charlotte zip code result in points for the local office. The postal service has already reduced retail window hours at post offices in Slayden and Cumberland Furnace and Mofield said Thursday that the Vanleer Post Office hours also will be cut to six hours a weekday by Jan. 9 or if the current postmaster leaves before then. Mofield said the decisions being made are to match the work hours to the workload at more than 13,000 post offices across the country. In the letter to 37036 residents, postal officials said the input from the surveys and Thursday’s public meeting would be taken into account before a final decision is made, possibly as early as this week.