Postal Service consolidations cut convenience

Carbondale to lose processing center, retain customer service

The nearly bankrupt U.S. Postal Service will continue to implement cuts, closings and changes through 2014 that may affect rural and urban Illinois communities.

The Postal Service announced Thursday it would continue with a plan to consolidate nearly 250 offices nationwide in an effort to reduce costs by $2.1 billion by 2014, stating it can no longer wait for Congress to find a solution.

Shannon Able, of Carbondale, delivers the mail Tuesday in Carbondale. Because of insufficient funds, the U.S. Postal Service will be forced to close 140 post offices during 2013, and 89 more closings in 2014. Jessica Tezak | Daily Egyptian

By August, the Postal Service will consolidate 48 locations followed by 90 more in early 2013 and potentially an additional 89 in 2014, according to a Postal Service news release.

The cutbacks will affect processing and distribution facilities in Quincy, Rockford, Bloomington and Chicago as well as customer service mail processing centers in Centralia, Effingham and Carbondale.

Offices such as those in Carbondale that provide customer services and a mail processing center will retain the office providing services to the public while the processing operations may be absorbed by other centers.

“The Carbondale location is only being examined for the feasibility of moving its processing operations into Springfield,” said Valerie Welsch of the U.S. Postal Service’s Corporate Communications Office of the Gateway District.

The post office will remain in Carbondale and customers will still be able to mail packages, buy stamps and other services, she said.

If the amount of mail processed at one location is absorbed by another, she said it would allow the Postal Service to be more efficient with their expenses.

“Given that the Postal Service is currently projecting a $14 billion net loss in fiscal year 2012 and continuing annual losses of this magnitude, we simply cannot justify maintaining our current mail processing footprint,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a press release.

The agency’s mail processing network had become too big, given declining first-class mail volume and mounting debt, he said.

In order to keep mail affordable and return the Postal Service to financial stability, reducing the mail processing network to match the anticipated workload is necessary, Donahoe said in a press release.

Since consolidation activities are being conducted at only 48 locations this summer, nearly all consolidating activities in 2012 will occur in August and will resume again in the early 2013, Megan Brennan, chief operating officer of the Postal Service, said in a press release.

This initial phase of consolidations is projected to reduce Postal Service staff by 13,000 and save the mail agency roughly $1.2 billion annually.

Welsch said when studies were done to determine closures, communities made it known they did not want to lose their post offices.

However, a second and final phase of 89 consolidations is scheduled to begin in February 2014 if the circumstances of the Postal Service do not improve.

By late 2014, the Postal Service will have 28,000 fewer employees with an estimated annual savings of $2.1 billion.

Welsch said it’s important to note that post offices will not be completely closing under the modified strategy proposed by Donahoe.

She said Donahoe wanted to find a solution that would help keep post offices in rural America while helping the postal service.

In order to balance the Postal Service’s current financial situation in the interest of the employees and the customers, she said implementing modified hours of operation would help gain foothold toward financial stability while still offering services to communities.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Welsch said. “Customers may have to get accustomed to new hours, but there will still be a post office for them.”

 

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About Tiffany Blanchette

Senior at SIUC majoring in photojournalism and zoology. Can be easily reached at tblanchette@dailyegyptian.com or 618-536-3311 ext. 254.

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