A letter posted on the front door of the aging office near the McClellan Medical Mall states that it will suspend services at the location Friday. The letter also states that though closure is pending, it might not be permanent.
“With change, there is always concern,” the letter states. “No final decision to permanently discontinue the Ft. McClellan Branch has been made.”
The letter states that services are being suspended at the post office because it generates little revenue, is too remote for some letter carriers and because the USPS will not have “qualified personnel” to staff the office after Friday.
The post office at McClellan was once heavily used by the military community, but after the fort closed in 1999, business slacked off. Today the boxy brick building is surrounded by deteriorating concrete curbs and fading road signs.
Though the building appears to be unkempt and activity there has decreased, it still serves some members of the surrounding community. Businesses, some within walking distance, are scattered throughout the fort and developers continue to recruit more companies there.
“We certainly have people there today that rely on the post office,” said Robin Scott, executive director of the McClellan Development Authority. “It certainly would be an added benefit to have a post office here for current and future businesses.”
Scott added that the post office is also used by the residential community at McClellan, which includes about 1,000 people.
The McClellan office was reviewed for possible closure in 2011 when the Postal Service conducted studies of 3,700 post offices, including 34 Alabama post offices. At the time the national Postal Service was undertaking a consolidation plan aimed at reducing costs for their operations.
The consolidation efforts continue, but the McClellan office is the only post office scheduled to be closed in the area. McClellan P.O. box customers will be able to open new boxes at the Anniston office, which is 5 miles away.
The Postal Service’s revenue has plummeted in recent years as customers turn to electronic messaging such as email to relay messages and to conduct business. Also affecting the agency’s finances is a 2006 law that switches the Postal Service from using a pay-as-you-go model for employee health benefits to one that requires the agency to pre-fund decades of future benefits by making payments of more than $5 billion per year through 2016.
The Postal Service ended the second quarter of the current fiscal year with a $1.9 billion loss and unless federal lawmakers back a USPS plan to cut expenses by amending employee benefit plans, adjusting the mail delivery schedule, and increasing the amount of products it offers, the losses will continue, according to a written statement from a Postal Service spokeswoman in Florida.
“To return the Postal Service to solvency requires a comprehensive approach, which is reflected in our updated Five-Year-Business Plan,” Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe said in the release. “The plan provides an achievable roadmap to restore financial stability and preserve affordable mail service for the American public.”
The Postal Service would need to save $20 billion annually by 2016 to stay afloat, according to the press release.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.