Fairfax, other Iowa towns talking postal-service reductions

Post Plan reduces hours and makes other operating changes to save $500 million a year

Residents in Fairfax and other Iowa communities are telling U.S. Postal Service officials what they think of their plan to reduce hours at their post office.

"We’ve got two choices," Ken Selzer said of the planned changes.  "Accept them, or accept them."

But residents can still weigh in on how the reduced hours taking effect in early 2013 should be scheduled, said Rich Watkins, postal service regional spokesman in Kansas City, Mo.

"We’ve made the decision and it’s been blessed by the postal commission," said Watkins. "We will discuss what hours to change, and we'll consult the community for when best to be open."

The reductions are part of the Postal Service's Post Plan announced in May. An alternative to closing thousands of small-town post offices nationwide, the Post Plan reduces hours and makes other operating changes to save $500 million a year.

"There’s no one single solution," said Watkins. "We’re looking at everything. That’s why we’re having these public meetings - we want to be as transparent as possible."

The Post Plan calls for reduced hours at 31 Iowa post offices, including several in Eastern Iowa. Meetings are also set today in New Albin, and Oxford, with meetings Thursday in Chelsea and Raymond and Friday in Olin.

The plan was devised to head off deficits projected to hit $18 billion a year by 2015.

"We think it’s a healthy balance between being able to continue to serve those communities and being able to move forward," Watkins said.

Watkins said this week's meetings will be the last until after the holidays. Residents may also comment through a survey mailed to households in affected communities.

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