Purdy post office new location announced
Library in Purdy to close due to new minimum wage law
City officials in Purdy have announced the location of the new post office and learned recently the community is about to lose its public library.
Mayor Pro Tem Brian Bowers, presiding over the monthly city council meeting on Dec. 11, said the city had received official word that the spec building constructed by Ed Mareth at the northwest corner of Commercial and Washington had been selected as the new post office. He understood engineers needed to make some modifications and hoped to have the office open by June.
A.J. Johnson, the new postmaster, named to the position on Oct. 20, is presently operating out of the Pierce City post office, which has handled Purdy’s mail since June. Johnson said the USPS is “ordering stuff like crazy” to rebuild the station, including the needed equipment. Among those are the post office boxes, the old ones having been built into the wall and unable to be saved.
“We have 150 box holders now, so I’m hoping the new post office will have about 200,” Johnson said.
Purdy has three routes of customers and that will continue. Johnson said he hopes the building will be ready earlier than June.
“It’s coming, and I can’t wait,” he said.
Gina Milburn, director of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library, was on hand at the council meeting to announce the library district board had voted to close the Purdy branch, the first one in the system to be shuttered. She credited the minimum wage increase, passed by voters in November, as the reason. As of Jan. 1, 2019, the minimum wage will rise from $8 to $8.60, and continue to rise by 85 cents each year until 2023, when it reaches $12 per hour, a 50 percent increase over the current wage.
With no additional income coming into the library, with all of its revenue based on property tax, Milburn said the library had no other way to cut personnel expenses.
“Overall library use is up throughout our two-county library district, but for many years the library in Purdy has been underutilized,” Milburn said. “We have tried a little bit of everything to increase use of the facility, but in spite of all attempts, we continue to see numbers decline.”
Compared to the big branches of Monett, Mt. Vernon and Cassville, Purdy’s circulation of materials ran about 25 percent of those in a month’s time, and half of the next lowest performing branch in Miller.
At the library board’s November meeting, Milburn said the district may close up to three of its lowest performing branches over the next three years, one at a time, then evaluate the impact on the budget. Other cost-cutting options include cutting the entire periodicals budget in favor of online magazine subscriptions and changing the formula for reimbursing mileage.
Milburn said her staff has studied the Purdy situation for two or three years. Activity by cardholders show half the customers also use the Monett or Cassville branches, probably during shopping trips, making the location inside Purdy itself less critical for reaching the public.
The last day of service at the Purdy branch will be March 1, 2019. Milburn said the district will likely hold a sale to avoid having to move more inventory than necessary.
Speaking for the city, Bowers said, “I sure hate it,” but thanked Milburn for giving the city 90 days notice to break the lease on the community center, which was built largely with the library in mind. Milburn thought staff could complete packing and moving in 60 days.