Minnesota post offices removed from possible closure listby Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — As many as two dozen Minnesota post offices that had been facing closure will be spared, at least for now.
The US Postal Service is facing a $7 billion budget shortfall this year.
To cut costs, the USPS had planned to shutter about 700 post offices nationwide. But on Wednesday, officials scaled back the list of closing stations to 413.
And Minnesota will get to keep all of its post offices -- for now.
"I know that there are a lot of people in small towns around Minnesota that are breathing a sigh of relief," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Klobuchar pushed hard to keep the state's almost two dozen at-risk postal stations open. She said the outcry against closing post offices was huge.
"This concern mostly came to my attention in rural areas because a lot of those towns are struggling anyway," she said. "It would just seem like the last straw if they didn't have their post office and they would have to drive for so long if they didn't have their post office."
There are about 37,000 retail post offices across the country, but as more and more business moves online, the USPS has been struggling to support all of those offices.
Mail volume is down 15 percent, from more than 200 billion pieces two years ago to an expected 180 billion this year. The lost business forced the US Postal Service to cut 25,000 jobs this year alone.
To save more money, federal officials are reorganizing delivery routes and removing thousands of blue mail boxes from the streets.
The planned station closures were part of this massive effort at cost savings. Congress is also considering cutting Saturday delivery.
USPS spokesman Pete Nowacki said officials weighed a number of factors in the decision to preserve Minnesota's stations.
"What sort of alternative would there be for people if we took out station x, what sort of a trip is it, is it a population that is served easily enough where people can get to another place, are there any sorts of alternative access nearby?" Nowacki said. "Really, what it boiled down to in a lot of cases is that the savings that we would have realized just didn't justify taking any action at this time."
Nowacki said the closures would have been tough on rural customers and wouldn't have saved the USPS much money in the long run.
But, he said, if things don't improve that could change and the stations could again face shut down.
Postal officials will make the final decision on branch closings in October.
- Morning Edition, 09/03/2009, 7:20 a.m.