The United States Postal Service will scale back hours at two Juneau post offices next month.
Notices went up at the Douglas and Auke Bay post offices earlier this week. Starting March 4th, the Douglas station will only be open 1 to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Auke Bay will be open from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, and noon to 3 p.m. Saturday. That’s a reduction of three and half hours every weekday at Douglas, and an hour and a half at Auke Bay.
Edna Cockerham is a post office operations manager with USPS in Anchorage. She says the change is a cost saving measure for the financially strapped agency, and the new hours are based on sales information at each station.
“The number of transactions, the amount of volume that comes in, as well as what we take in over the counter by hour,” Cockerham said. “We looked at that data and based our decisions on that data.”
The Douglas post office remains on a list of facilities the USPS is studying for possible closure. But Cockerham says a decision about which post offices to close has been put on hold indefinitely.
“So rather than closing them, we looked at reducing the work hours in there and the window hours to match the usage,” she said.
But Douglas resident Dave Dierdorff worries the new hours will hurt local businesses and residents.
Dierdorff says he goes to the post office at least once a day. He’s retired and can go whenever he wants, but he says most working people don’t have that option.
“People who work in the [Mendenhall] Valley, or people who work on a fishing boat, or maybe at Greens Creek or Kensington [Mine] are going to be foreclosed from getting their mail in a convenient way or a timely fashion,” Dierdorff said.
The Postal Service also announced this week an end to all Saturday mail delivery, except for packages.
The agency suffered $15.9 billion in losses last fiscal year. Part of the problem is that it’s the only federal agency required to forward fund employee retirement. USPS officials have asked Congress to repeal the requirement, which has been on the books since 2006. But so far lawmakers have not budged.
Dierdorff has written to Alaska’s Congressional delegation about the issue, and is urging his friends and neighbors to do the same.
“That’s what’s bankrupting them,” he said. “Not hours of operation at Douglas.”
Hours at the downtown Federal Building post office and the Mendenhall Valley post office will remain the same.
The Douglas station is one of five post offices in Alaska on the list for possible closure. The others are in the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas. The list includes more than 3,600 post offices nationwide.