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Post office needs to make changes to stay open

By BY CONGRESSMAN BLAKE FARENTHOLD
July 20, 2013 at 2:20 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold

The U.S. Constitution in Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 states Congress "shall have power to establish post offices and post roads."

Before the age of Internet and cellphones, mail was how we communicated with loved ones, did business and petitioned the government for a redress of our grievances.

Today, our world is very different from when Benjamin Franklin was the postmaster general. The Postal Service is not working efficiently, losing $25 million a day as mail volume decreases and costs go up.

As chairman of the House subcommittee spearheading postal reform, I've held hearings looking at the issues from customers', employees', vendors' and even competitors' points of view.

All sides agreed that it's not just about cutting costs but also finding innovative solutions that will save the United States Postal Service, make it stronger for future generations and keep the taxpayers off the hook for a bailout.

There is no doubt the USPS is in need of reform. Even without prefunding its employees' retiree health benefits, the Postal Service is losing roughly $5 billion per year. It hasn't modernized its operations as the world has evolved more and more toward technology, and it has finally caught up with it.

It is now forced to find ways to save money. One of the ways it intends to do this is through consolidating or closing some post offices and sorting facilities. Victoria's sorting facility has already moved to Corpus Christi.

The Main Street post office in Victoria may now be on the chopping block. It is undergoing a "feasibility study" to determine if it is to be consolidated with the James Moody Station or kept open.

I toured the Main Street post office earlier this month to see firsthand the potential effects of its possible closing.

Part of the problem with the Main Street post office is it is paying for more space than it needs and has high heating and air conditioning costs.

I am currently working to set up a meeting between the Government Services Administration (which owns the Main Street post office building) and the USPS to renegotiate the rental agreement at a lower cost and/or create a separate air system so it is not paying to cool the entire building when only its space is being used.

This cost savings could tilt the scales in favor of keeping at least the retail operation open.

In my opinion, Victoria is too big a city to have only one post office, and a lot of downtown businesses and individuals count on the Main Street location because of its convenience.

The key to postal reform is giving the USPS the power to make the decisions necessary to break even.

If Congress doesn't pass postal reform and the Postal Service doesn't initiate its own reforms to improve efficiency and "right-size" operations, the American people are going to be left footing the bill for a taxpayer bailout. Without change, the USPS is about to go the way of the blacksmith's horseshoe business after the invention of the automobile and tire.

Rep. Blake Farenthold is the U.S. Congressman for District 27. Constituents can contact his Washington office at 202-225-7742.

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