The U. S. Postal Service will delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until mid-May.
In a statement Tuesday, the agency said it would hold off on closings by several weeks to give Congress more time to pass legislation that would give it more authority and liquidity to stave off bankruptcy. The Postal Service is forecast to lose a record $14.1 billion next year.
The agency said last week it had planned to begin closing processing centers as early as April and to close some post offices early next year.
In Montana, 85 post offices and several mail sorting centers were targeted.
Meetings about the closures were held in each affected town over a few months this autumn, including many Hi-Line post offices, including Joplin, Invernvess, Hingham, Kremlin and Zurich.
The residents of those towns took differing tones in their meetings, but the consensus seemed to be that these closures were a mistake and that the savings the USPS was hoping to achieve could be achieved in a variety of ways that wouldn’t just end local post offices.
The delay comes after months of harsh words from many rural legislators, including all of Montana’s men in Washington.
Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester both proposed bills to forbid the postal service from closing offices that are more than 10 miles from the next nearest one, which may have saved some, but not most on the chopping block on U. S. Highway 2.
Both were excited by the news of the delay and look forward to using the extra time.
“I’m glad we were able to secure more time to work together and find a real solution to the Postal Service’s financial burdens, ” Baucus said in a release. “Closing rural post offices and sending Montana area mail processing facilities out of state won’t create the kind of savings necessary for a long-term solution. We have a lot of work to do in the next five months, and I’ll keep doing everything I can to find the best solution for Montana. ”
Tester met with Postmaster General Patrick Donaho earlier this week and hopes to continue to do so as they discuss the service’s long-term viability.
“Today’s announcement is a win for Montana, and credit belongs to the thousands of Montanans who raised their concerns about the importance of postal service and the jobs it supports in rural America, ” Tester said. “But we have more work to do. I look forward to working on a long-term solution that keeps the Postal Service open for business and serving rural America. ”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.