Postal Service operates in limbo

Although Saturday mail delivery is to continue, the U.S. Postal Service has been reducing service in other ways, and plans to cut back more.

The Postal Service announced plans last May to reduce retail office hours at thousands of rural post offices. The offices would be open two, four or six hours hours a day instead of eight. Post office boxes in lobbies would remain accessible for more hours.

The changes have begun.

This week, the Bascom post office now is open 12:15-4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30-11:15 a.m. Saturday. In January, the hours at the post office in Bloomville changed to 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2:30-4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Beginning May 4, the McCutchenville post office is to be open 12:15-4:15 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Two weeks later, hours are to change at two other area post offices: Alvada’s office is to be open 9-11 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. weekdays, while the Old Fort office is to be open noon-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8-11 a.m. Saturday.

Other changes are coming. Post offices in Kansas, Bettsville and Flat Rock are to see new retail window hours in 2014.

Meanwhile, all residents in our circulation area likely have been affected by another cost-cutting move by the U.S. Postal Service. The mail processing center in Mansfield has closed, and sorting work done there and in Youngstown was absorbed by the Cleveland center. Some readers have noticed editions of this newspaper that are delivered by mail are taking longer to arrive. Anyone who buys stamps knows the cost of postage increased recently.

Trouble is, service-cutting moves meant to reduce expenses won’t help boost revenues.

One problem is the Postal Service is a quasi-governmental entity. Congress should cut the service loose to operate as a private business, or it should return to being a federal agency. As it is, the service is operating in limbo – and the service is suffering.