MONTEZUMA — The small post office here that United World College students rely on to receive and mail packages and letters to their home countries is set to reduce its hours.
The post office is currently open for eight hours each weekday and two hours on Saturdays. The plan being recommended is to keep Saturday hours the same but to cut back to four hours a day each weekday, a Postal Service official announced during a community meeting held on the UWC-USA campus on Tuesday evening. More than 100 people attended the meeting.
The move is aimed at saving money, and a final decision is expected to be announced soon.
Mike Flores, manager of post office operations for this part of the state, said the U.S. Postal Service won’t be able to make payroll in October if it keeps operating the way it currently is.
“Were looking at everything we can do to survive as an organization,” he said. Flores also said that reduced hours was a way of keeping the Montezuma Post Office open.
Among the other options considered were closing the post office all together and moving P.O. boxes that are currently there to another post office, closing the post office and finding a contractor in the area to sell stamps and flat rate products and closing the post office and setting up roadside mailbox delivery.
Those who use the Montezuma Post Office overwhelmingly favored the realignment of hours option over closure.
Still, those who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting argued against reducing the post office’s hours, citing its importance to the community and to those at the United World College.
Among the concerns they raised was that reduced hours would make it difficult for students and people who work to get to the post office when it is open, that the woman who runs the post office, Sheila Montaño, would be overwhelmed trying to squeeze eight hours of work down to four and that the person who runs the post office should make a decent living.
Montaño noted that handling international packages is a time consuming process. At the end of the school year, most of the UWC students mail their belongings back to their home countries, she said.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” Montaño said, referring to the reduced hours.
Flores said that beyond the need to cut costs, the reduced hours is being recommended based on a study of the post office’s workload. As for access, Flores said the post office might be able to find a way to keep the lobby open longer so that those who have post office boxes there could pick up their mail even if the window is closed. He added that the post office might even be able to add lockers so that people could access their packages after hours.
Reducing hours will reduce service, Flores acknowledged, but he emphasized that the Postal Service doesn’t have the resources to continue operating as it has. He said that because of the internet, first class mail is in a death spiral, and the Postal Service is losing money.
Pressed for figures on the Montezuma Post Office, Flores said that from October to March, it took in about $37,000 in revenue and $29,000 in expenses, for a profit of about $8,000. But he noted that that was just for post office operations and didn’t factor in such things as processing of mail and mail delivery.
Flores said retail hours for the Montezuma Post office wold likely be 1 to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.