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May 11, 2012 7:29 PM

Postal service announces strategy to cut losses

TUCSON - Rural areas may have to adjust to less convenience at their local post office. Not as drastic as the original plan to close down rural post offices, the postal service proposes to cut hours at smaller post offices.

There are four near Tucson that will be affected: Red Rock, Rillito, Mount Lemmon and Arivaca. The goal is to cut down on their losses. Last quarter alone, their losses were 3.2 billion dollars.USPS receives no tax dollars to pay for operations.

The Postal Service said first class volume has declined by 25 percent over the past five years and with that their operating revenue has declined dramatically. They also tell News 4 Tucson, rural post offices do not earn enough to cover the costs of keeping them open. Legislative mandates also require USPS to provide pre-funding of retiree health benefits.

Zachary Willeford said he can't imagine being without a post office in his community. "It's very important because we get packets delivered that we don't really want left on the side of the road," said Willeford. He said people in this small post office in Rillito know his family very well. "And If my wife shows up with our handicap child, they do bring the mail out to her," said Willeford.

The hours of this post office will be cut down to four. "At least they'll still be here," said Willeford. "This gives us security of knowing that it's here, and no matter what hours are open, we know that we can come and get them."

Jimmy Woods uses Red Rock post office which will be cut to four hours as well. "The people here are fantastic and help any way they can," said Woods. He said if the Postal Service had chosen to close this office, he'd have to travel more than 20 miles for the closest one. "I don't know where we would have gone. Tucson or Eloy would be the closest place," said Woods.

But proximity isn't the only reason he wants his local post office to stay open. "I'm the old fashioned type. I like US mail. I still pay by US mail, so I enjoy it," said Woods. And he's happy he won't have to go elsewhere for his mail. "At least it will give us everything we need," said Woods.

The U.S. Postal Service said this new strategy will be implemented over a two year multi-phased approach including community meetings and surveys. They estimate this strategy could save half a billion dollars annually.

For a list of the post offices that are expected to be affected click here: http://about.usps.com/news/electronic-press-kits/our-future-network/assets/pdf/postplan-affected-post-offices-120509.pdf

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