The U.S. Postal Service agreed Tuesday to wait until May before closing any rural post offices or distribution centers, including North Platte’s processing center that serves west central Nebraska.
The agreement was made after several U.S. Senators met Monday with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and Thurgood Marshall of the Postal Service Board of Governors.
During the moratorium, scheduled to end on May 15, the Postal Service will continue to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs and solicit community input.
Sen. Ben Nelson said it is a step in the right direction.
Nelson has heard from many communities that would be affected, including a village official in Naper, who said, “I know everyone has to look out for the bottom line but I’m sure that the answer does not lay in the closing of 3,700 offices…Five years from now they’ll be in the same boat. The small rural areas are taking the brunt of this problem and it is not going to solve it.”
Nelson was one of 20 senators that urged Congress Friday to order the Postal Service to wait at least six months.
North Platte’s mail distribution center is among the 250 processing centers in the nation that could be closed. About 50 people work in the $2 million building that was built in the late 1990s.
If it closes, North Platte’s mail would go to Cheyenne, be sorted and brought back, delaying mail deliveries for 2-5 days.
Nelson said closing “post offices and mail processing plants for short-term cost reductions is a hasty decision.”
Postmaster General Richard Donahoe has said closing the distribution centers would save about $3 billion. The Postal Service is expected to lose nearly $9 billion next year.
Nearly 3,700 rural post offices are slated to be closed, including about 100 in Nebraska, such as the one in Farnam. Some are only open a couple hours a day. Savings from those closures would equate to a 1-percent raise for postal workers, Rep. Adrian Smith has said.