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Freshly-restored post office could close

Friday, 20th February, 2015

The 121-year-old Wilcannia post office which was restored and reopened last year might soon be closed again.

The post office is run by Central Darling Shire Council, but the council also has the township’s bank and motor registry to operate as well.

Now a review of the cost to the cash-strapped council of running the three businesses has found that shutting the historic post office building and moving the service to another office would save money.

Council took over the Westpac Bank, the Roads and Maritime Service agency and the postal service to keep them in the town, albeit at a cost to the ratepayers. 

The post office building, which had been closed for 15 years, was acquired by council and restored with a heritage grant to assume its traditional role.

The bank and the RMS are run from a separate Customer Service Centre. 

Council had already cut staff at the post office from two to one and closed it for an hour each day to save money.

A review of the costs has now found that it would be more efficient to put the three agencies into one building.

According to a report to council, putting them in the post office would cost between $60,000 and $100,000 because it would have to be remodelled to accommodate two extra offices, computers and bank security requirements.

An extra entrance and verandah would also have to be built for about $150,000, the report stated.

But moving the post office to the Customer Service Centre came in at an estimated cost of $25,000 because it would require little more than moving the post office boxes.

The post office building will remain in council’s hands, however, and may be let to raise some income.

It might, said the report, even be used again when council’s finances are in better shape.

Council will consider the proposal at its monthly meeting next week.

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