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USPS to keep rural offices open, change hours

May 10, 2012 | last updated May 10, 2012 10:07 am

The U.S. postmaster general said yesterday that more than 3,500 rural post offices, including 30 in Maine, will remain open but with shortened hours. The U.S. Postal Service hasn't yet made a decision on whether to move ahead with plans to consolidate operations at its Hampden processing facility with one in Scarborough.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a press release said the USPS will develop a new strategy to keep the post offices open and also find "significant cost savings." Over a two-year implementation period, it will change hours at approximately 13,000 post offices, including 244 in Maine, with a completion date of September 2014. At that time, Donahoe predicts annual savings of half a billion dollars. Retail window hours at rural post offices would be modified, while access to PO boxes would remain unchanged. USPS also announced a voluntary early retirement incentive for more than 21,000 non-executive postmasters.

USPS said last July it was exploring closing smaller branches as part of a proposal to cut $3 billion. It also announced plans to consolidate or close 223 of its 460 mail processing centers, including one in Hampden. U.S. Sen. Susan Collins introduced legislation that would keep many of the facilities open, which passed in the Senate 62-37, according to the Bangor Daily News. Donahoe isn't expected to announce a decision on the Hampden consolidation until a congressional moratorium on USPS changes ends May 15, the paper reported.