U.S. Postal Service may close Welch and Memorial Union post offices

The Welch Avenue branch of the U.S. Postal Service could close due to statewide cutbacks. Photo: Jordan Maurice/Iowa State Daily

Ben Theobald

The U.S. Postal Service is considering closure of 178 Iowa post offices. Two branches in Ames — one in the Memorial Union and one on Welch Avenue — are among those that may be closed.

Across the country, 3,700 of the United States 32,000 post offices will be under review by the U.S Postal Service.

The Postal Service has lost billions of dollars in revenue due to a congressional mandate to provide health benefits for employees who will retire in the coming years. This is because of the passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act by U.S. Congress in 2006, which gave the Postal Regulatory Commission more authority with the budget.

“The service does not have the authority to not make those payments,” said Richard Watkins, spokesman for Des Moines-based Hawkeye district. “No other government agency is required to make those payments. The maximum borrowing cap is $15 billion.”

Mail volume is down more than 20 percent, and in the past five years, there have been 200 million fewer visits to post offices.

“This has resulted in a revenue loss of $2 billion over the past five years,” Watkins said. “35 percent of retail revenue comes from sources that are not post offices. For nearly 30 years, postal services have relied on sales of its products and services for its revenue. Not tax dollars.”

The postal service has asked Congress to change the length of the postal service’s delivery week from Monday through Saturday to Monday through Friday. 

“For those customers who need Saturday delivery, they can still get their mail with a P.O. box,” Watkins said. “Then, the mail will be delivered, because that mail doesn’t require a carrier to deliver it.”

Some students expect that the possible closure of the MU post office would inconvenience them during the school year.

“Most students are very busy during the week with going to class, and many times working on campus,” said Sarah McClanahan, International Student and Scholars member. “Even for staff, those working full-time during normal post office hours aren’t able to mail things, unless it’s on their lunch hour or on a Saturday morning.”

Ali Soltanshahi, an adviser for International Students and Scholars, thinks that the post offices should keep the people they work for in mind.

“Although it is important for the post office to look at spending cuts in order to meet the economical challenges of today’s world, it is also imperative and equally important to keep in perspective the population they serve,” Soltanshahi said.

Soltanshahi believes that the post offices should advertise their on-campus services more aggressively.

“I know about it because I work in the MU,” Soltanshahi said. “But I am not sure how well they have advertised to the rest of the campus community.”