Communities large and small all want and need a number of services for their citizens. Good schools, of course, are high on the list. But somewhere on that same list would be a local post office. The future of rural post offices however is clearly in jeopardy. And the potential impact of eliminating several rural post offices has a number of people concerned. We should be concerned as well.
Postal officials meeting in St. Louis last week discussed the future of rural post offices. Paint it anyway you want, the future is murky at best.
A federal commission last year proposed changes that would make it easier for the postal service to eliminate or reduce the number of rural post offices. Given the financial position of the postal service, the move was inevitable. First-class mail, for example, makes up 55 per cent of the total postal service revenue. Because of internet bill-paying capabilities, the number of first class mailings is expected to decline by two billion pieces this year alone.
In business a decline of this magnitude spells changes. And when it comes to cost-savings, the postal service is looking at the elimination of several rural post offices. Of the 27,000 post offices in the country, 62 per cent are rural. Just do the math.
We value the availability of a local post office. Like most of you, we would hate to see our local service shifted to some urban area for a number of reasons. Yet we try to read the writing on the wall and eventually, as technology changes and improves, the day of the rural postal center may well be numbered.
Officials in St. Louis were quick to point out that no closings are scheduled now or in the near future. But when the discussion falls on money, as it always does, the option of reducing rural offices becomes are increasingly strong choice.
Someday I'd be willing to bet that Sikeston and several surrounding towns will be fighting this battle to retain our local facility. We'd better get ready because that battle, I believe, is truly inevitable.