No final decision on Mackville post office

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By Jesse Osbourne

Those in support of maintaining some kind of post office service in Mackville had a chance to express themselves on Thursday at the Mackville Community Center.

Roughly 75 residents of Mackville and elected officials met with three representatives from the United States Postal Service to discuss the rural post office, which is under review because of the workload and revenue that it draws.
Eddie Jessie, the Munfordville postmaster, did most of the speaking for the post office.
“The citizens of this community turned out, and we appreciate you being here to support your community,” Jessie said. “That shows us that you care, and if you all didn’t care we’d be in worse shape than what we are.”
In attendance were Steve Miller from congressman Brett Guthrie’s office, Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles, Mackville mayor Carl Gabhart, magistrate Hal Goode and Mason Lodge member Bobby Russell.
Settles pointed to his attachment to the area, as he grew up playing basketball in the former school. His mother also lives in the area.
“I’m trying to do everything that I can, from writing letters to (higher ranking elected officials), to being here for support tonight and to keep a viable post office here in Mackville,” he said. “I think it’s essential for this community and for the people that live here, so I am in full support of anything that we can do to keep postal service here in Mackville, Kentucky.”
Gabhart said he and the citizens of Mackville appreciated the chance to voice their concern.
“I want you to know that if anybody has any idea what we can do to help keep the post office here, I’m willing to do whatever is possible that we can do,” he said. “I do all of my business there, and would encourage everybody else to do that because I also know that like any business, you have to make money to stay in business. So that is one of the key issues, as with the post office here, is that there has to be revenue.”
Goode gave a presentation to the post office officials, citing ways that money could be saved.
He said he was approached by the landlords of the post office, the Mason Lodge members, in February. They were concerned Mackville might lose the post office.
“My presentation is really just a possibility of looking at more of a business-type of standpoint, which the post office is doing,” he said. “So I hope the following would create more future business-like discussions in keeping the post office open in Mackville.”
Goode cited that a large portion of the Mackville population was made up of senior citizens.
“Some of them would probably have to ask someone to drive them to the post office for assistance in their transaction,” he said. “With the economic situation that family’s are in, it’s just another expense they can’t afford.”
He said online transactions for postal needs weren’t the answer, either.
While Internet users in the county have gone up, there is still limited access in the Mackville area.
Goode offered that labor could be cut by staffing someone for $8 or $10 an hour, something he thinks Mackville residents would be willing to do.
“You’ll see probably a lot of people that would volunteer, step up for a couple of hours, any certain week in time to keep that facility open,” he said.
He also addressed the cost of rent, something he said was negotiable by the Masons.
“The landlord has offered to decrease the rent each time that it’s been deeded. That is something that they’re willing to negotiate,” he said.
Goode presented the post office officials with data from the Louisville Data Center and letters of support from congressman Brett Guthrie, senator Mitch McConnell, state senator Jimmy Higdon, state representative Mike Harmon and the Springfield-Washington County Economic Development Authority.
Also included was a letter of concern from Springfield State Bank and 300 signatures on a petition of support for the post office that was gathered in about a week’s time.
“I think anybody in this room will understand that we’re in a nationwide economic crisis and we have to look at things, but at some point in time you have to realize that rural America should not be penalized for maintaining it’s most fundamental attributes that we hold so steadfast,” Goode said.
He made a plea for the post office officials to figure out a way to keep the service available.
“This is a community that has faced relocation and has survived,” he said. “I think this facility you’re sitting in is proof how a community can work together and make a venture very successful. I simply ask just to give them a chance.”
Jessie said the officials at the meeting were putting together a record to present before the postal regulatory commission, which would make the final decision on whether the post office stayed open or closed.
“As far as telling you if it will save your post office or not, I can’t tell you that because we’re not going to make that final decision,” he said. “All across the state of Kentucky, I think there are about 176 offices being reviewed that got on that list (of post offices reviewed to be closed). How many of them will close? I have no idea. Every one of them might close, half of them might close. I really don’t know.”
Jessie said the postal officials main objective at the meeting on Thursday was to let citizens express their opinions. But also, he said, he wanted to let people know what would happen if the post office did close.
He said the post office was losing money, probably $10 billion as of Sept. 30, he said.
“You wonder why we’re losing money? One of the biggest reasons we’re losing money is because not as many people use the post office as they once did,” he said.
Online bill pay has cut into profits.
“Those 44 cent stamps are our biggest piece of profit revenue,” he said. “We have a lot of other things going on, but that’s where our biggest profit is.”
Mail volume has decreased by about 43.1 billion pieces of mail in the last five years, he said. It could go down another 20 percent in the next four years, he said.
“Our revenue has been down about 14 percent while our costs continue to go up,” he said. “Every time gas goes up one penny, it costs the postal service about $8 million a year for one cent. That’s how big of a fleet of vehicles we have.”
Jessie said the postal service couldn’t offer the extensive network of service it once did.
“Everything is on the table,” he said. “It’s not just in rural areas. Maybe the brunt of it is, but we’re looking at closing stations and branches in large cities.”
If the post office closed, Jessie said, the postal service could provide service to those affected with a rural carrier.
“(Rural carriers) provide a lot more services than just putting mail in your box,” he said. “They can sell you things. They can mail your packages. They can do pretty much anything you can do in the post office. It’s a little bit more inconvenient, a little bit more limited, but they can offer a lot of services, especially if you have a good carrier.”
A village post office could be another option, he said.
A rotary unit could be placed in a Mackville business.
“You could buy stamps and they have flat rate priority boxes,” he said. “It would be a more limited amount of service, but it would be better than not having anything.”
Jessie said the notice that the post office is under review is posted for 60 days. The notice for the Mackville post office was put up on Sept. 16.
After the 60 days, a public notice of a final decision will be posted. That notice will be posted for 30 days. During that 30 day period, there is an option to appeal.
If an appeal is made, the postal regulatory commission has 120 days to either move forward with the original decision or change the final decision.
After the final decision is made, if it were made to close the post office, closure would occur within 60 days.
Russell also spoke to those assembled, wanting to clear up a possible misconception about the landlords of the post office building.
“Whenever rent was brought up, that was every three years, we did a contract,” he said. “We always offered a price, and most times they came back with a higher offer. We never priced them out.”
Russell told the postal officials that the rent money collected was put back into the community for various causes that the Masons took up.
Shannon Blosser, pastor at Mackville and Antioch United Methodist churches, said he wanted the postal officials to consider the people of Mackville.
“You take the post office away, my fear as a pastor is that you harm the community identity of what makes this community so special,” he said. “Taking these post offices away from Washington may seem like a good decision, but from the people here, you’re taking away their identity.”
Jessie addressed one question from the crowd asking about maintaining the current zip code. He said the zip code would remain the same.
Patsy Lester said that it would also cost the post office money to maintain a rural carrier or operate a village post office.
“The cost of maintaining a village post office is very small compared to what it is to operate a regular post office,” Jessie said. “As far as the added expense to the people putting up rural boxes, I can’t see that being a great expense either. I do agree that it is an added expense, but both of those added together would be small compared to what the expenses are now.”
The meeting concluded with no final answer, only more time to wait and see what the fate of the Mackville post office would be.