U. S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., is telling the postmaster general, Patrick Donahoe, that he should visit rural Montana post offices before making any decisions to close some of them.
The U. S. Postal Service announced last year that it would be closing three mail processing facilities in the state, perhaps leading to a net loss of 11 jobs in the state. The agency says cuts are needed to meet budget demands exacerbated by a 25 percent decline in mail volume since 2006.
Not long after the processing consolidation, USPS said it was going to look at closing nearly 4,000 small-town post offices across the country, 80 in Montana, that it considers to be underutilized.
After three months of public hearings, including those in Joplin, Inverness, Hingham, Kremlin, Zurich and Hogeland, the comments gathered by staff members of all three Montana federal legislators contributed to the USPS postponing any closure decisions for at least six months, until this May.
One of the most ubiquitous concerns expressed in those hearings was the delivery of prescription drugs to the elderly members of these small communities.
Many community members didn’t understand why they seemed to be on the chopping block first, when they rely more than most on that connection to the rest of the world.
Baucus argues the closures will not create the kind of long-term cost savings sought, and will harm delivery standards.
U. S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., have also been critical of the cost-cutting moves to close post offices.