Fewer Post Offices Targeted for Closure
Updated 1:10 p.m. ET
The Postal Service has cut more than 200 sites from its list of facilities for possible closure, including one site in Maryland, the next step in a process that began earlier this summer amid uncertainty over how many sites it would close.
Officials will now consider the fate of 413 retail stations and branches, down from a list of 677 facilities released in late July. The Derwood Post Office in Rockville was dropped from the list, but 12 other postal facilities in the District and suburban Maryland remain under consideration for closure or consolidation.
Derwood was spared because officials could not find adequate nearby space for its P.O. boxes, according to Postal Service regional spokeswoman Luvenia Hyson. Moving the boxes would have been too costly and would have inconvenienced customers because of the distance to the next closest postal facility, she said.
The Postal Service is required to provide the list to the Postal Regulatory Commission, which is reviewing closing and consolidation plans. Final decisions will be made after Oct. 2, and Postal officials have said privately they expect no more than 200 facilities to be on the final list.
Sites won't close or be consolidated until 60 days after they are approved for closure and thus are unlikely to be shuttered by the end of 2009, Postal spokesman Greg Frey said.
The Postal Service operates almost 37,000 facilities nationwide and sells stamps at 18,000 ATMs; another 56,000 supermarkets, pharmacies and other stores sell stamps or other postal services.
Mail volume will drop by as much as 20 billion pieces in 2009 versus last year, according to the Postal Service, which estimates it will deliver roughly 170 billion pieces of mail. It lost $2.4 billion during its third quarter and forecasts a $7 billion loss when its fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
The draft list of 677 possible sites was provided Congressional staffers in July, who then leaked it to reporters.
Its figures differed from a list provided to the Postal Regulatory Commission, which named up to 1,000 sites.
Postmaster General John Potter would not commit to an exact number of closures when asked by reporters, prompting Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to scold him during a Congressional hearing for refusing to provide a specific number.
The decision to consider closing postal facilities is one of several cost-cutting moves under consideration, including a plan to offer buyouts to up to 30,000 employees and a push to have Congress change the Postal Service's schedule of payments to fund retiree health benefits.
Review the full list of possible closures here.
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