August 1, 2014

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Closing of post office draws outrage from Council

LORAIN – Return to sender.

Residents are being asked to fight the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to close the South Lorain post office at 1680 E. 28th St.

“I hope the people in South Lorain will come together and rally against this,” at-large Councilwoman Anne Molnar said at Monday night’s City Council meeting. “It’s a disgrace that they are closing this post office, because it’s used.”

In a June 10 letter to Lorain Tool Enterprises – which leases the building to the Postal Service – the Postal Service said the lease will be terminated on Dec. 7. The closing would be part of $2 billion in cuts nationally planned this year by the Postal Service following $9 billion in cuts in the last two fiscal years, according to the Postal Service website.

The Postal Service lost $2.2 billion in the second quarter, with the 40.7 billion pieces of mail it delivered – a 3.1 percent decline from the same time last year. In addition to closing post offices, the Postal Service is expected to go to five-day service, eliminating Saturday service.

The Postal Service – whose approximately $75 billion annual budget receives only 0.1 percent of taxpayer money – has been hit hard by online bill paying and competition from private companies such as United Parcel Service and FedEx. Unlike the Postal Service, private, for-profit companies can pick and choose where they deliver to.

The Postal Service has also been hurt by a 2007 requirement to pre-fund $5.5 billion health benefits for employees annually. The Postal Service would’ve seen profits of $3.3 billion in 2007 and $2.8 billion in 2008, despite the Great Recession, without the pre-funding requirement.

“The effect of retiree health benefit pre-funding is profound,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a March 2 news release.

The effect of closing the South Lorain post office would also be profound, according to Molnar. She said many elderly residents rely on it and the neighborhood has many who don’t have cars and find the post office convenient.

Molnar asked Mayor Tony Krasienko to write to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, and U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, to enlist their help in fighting the closing. Krasienko said he would send them letters this week.

“People want less government, this is the result,” Krasienko said. “You can’t pay less and have more.”

In other business:

• Council unanimously approved a Joint Economic Development Zone with Sheffield in which Lorain would provide sanitary sewer service to new businesses north of Colorado Avenue in exchange for sharing tax revenue from the businesses. Krasienko said the agreement will help Lorain capitalize on development in the state Route 611-state Route 2 corridor. Sheffield still has to approve the agreement.

• Members agreed to meet 5:30 p.m. July 5 to discuss proposed sanitary sewer rate hikes and fire and police department staffing.

• Council discussed paving potholes with Krasienko, saying new repaving projects next year would only occur if Council agrees to borrow for the project by selling municipal bonds. Krasienko said only two to three streets could be repaved annually because the work requires installing new water lines. Krasienko aid for every $1 million spent on road projects, it costs another $4 million to $6 million for new water lines.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.