Village post offices met with mixed reviews
LYNNVILLE, Ky. — What do you do when you're billions of dollars in the hole? You cut costs. In fact, the U.S. Postal Service just defaulted on a $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. treasury.
To slash spending, the USPS plans to make changes to rural post offices across the country. In many cases, closing full service post offices and opening up an alternative, called a village post office.
Wednesday, they opened up Kentucky's sixth Village Post Office in Kirksey, Kentucky, at the Kirksey store. Village post offices have only a few of the options you'd find at a typical post office; stamps, priority mail and post office boxes. But they are staffed by store employees not postal service workers, saving the government hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in salaries and overhead.
The village post office at the Lynnville general store isn't that busy. But the USPS has made it clear, this is likely what the future holds for small towns across the country.
"I really think we need our post office back for sure," Amanda Morris said.
That likely won't happen.
"I felt like it was safe there, now I don't feel it's as safe on the back porch of a restaurant," Morris said when speaking of her P.O. box.
But the owner of that restaurant and general store, Jamie Mills, is convinced this can work. In fact, it has to work.
"It's much better than losing your post office all together," Mills said.
Mills recently got the outdoor sign in the mail.
Mills said post office business has been slow at first, but he's confident as word spreads, more people will come in, and walk through his store and that could lead to a boost in business.
"If it picks up one a month that's something I didn't have before," Mills said.
While people like Morris may not love the new concept store, Mills said at least, small towns like this get to hang on to part of their post office, and keep zip code 42063.
"A lot of people want that zip code to stick around, it's part of history," Mills said.
You may remember all those community meetings in places where post offices and sorting facilities were on the chopping block. A USPS Spokesperson told Local 6, because of opposition to closing so many of those offices, the USPS will now hold another series of meetings where they'll propose not closing the post offices, but reducing hours of operations, in some cases down to two or three hours a day.
The spokesperson said savings vary in each case but one example: the USPS was out $70,000 a year for leasing a physical structure and employee salaries. With a typical village post office, the USPS pays the store owner $1,500 to lease the space. That's a savings of $68,500.
If you'd like to see the list of rural post offices under study, click here.