Rep. Adrian Smith recently introduced a bill to make sure that rural post offices are not inappropriately targeted as the Postal Service tries to reform itself.
The bill would cap rural closures and consolidations at 5 percent of total closures and consolidations in any given year, Smith said.
“In rural America, the post office is the center of the community and provides an important link to the rest of the nation,” he said.
Smith said closing smaller retail post offices will not solve the Postal Service’s serious financial problems, and given the importance of universal service, rural post offices should not be disproportionately targeted.
In 2011, the U.S. Postal Service announced it was considering closure or consolidation of 3,652 postal facilities, 90 of which are located in Nebraska.
It was estimated closing all of these post offices would have saved the Postal Service about 4 percent of USPS’s $5 billion shortfall in 2011.
In addition to capping the number of rural facilities that can be closed in one year, Smith said the bill would set guidelines to ensure those affected by such changes would maintain access to the Postal Service.
The USPS would be required to provide 60 days notice of intent to close or consolidate a post office, and survey affected customers to determine preferences for alternative access to postal services.
If USPS is unable to provide access through the alternative preferred by survey participants or the preferred option is cost prohibitive, USPS would be required to provide access to postal services through different means and give written explanation for why the preferred option was not possible, he said.
The bill is H.R. 2615, the Securing Access to Rural Postal Services Act. Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) is the co-sponsor.
Smith and McIntyre co-chair the bipartisan Congressional Rural Caucus that provides a forum to find workable solutions to the unique issues facing rural Americans.