Helena

Jan 5, 2012 12:13 AM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Helena residents sound off on postal consolidations

The United States Postal Service (USPS) is planning on eliminating over 250 mail processing centers around the country.

On Wednesday evening representatives from the USPS told the public they are "radically realigning" mail processing in Montana.

Helena residents aren't happy.

But the USPS reports it will save an estimated $340,000 a year. The plan is to move all mail processing from Helena to Great Falls. Which results in the loss of 11 jobs at the Helena branch. Great Falls will gain 10 positions.

USPS District Manager John DiPeri says in total, Montana would lose 7 processing plants and all the mail would be handled at two locations: Great Falls and Billings.

"The Postal Service is now saying what can we do to survive? What can we do to keep the doors open," DiPeri told about 30 Helena area residents.

The U.S. Postal Service reports mail volumes have dropped by 20 to 30% since 2006. DiPeri says people are paying bills online and emailing, they're just not using the postal service like they did in the past.

"For whatever that reason is, the Postal Service is losing billions of dollars on their books," DiPeri adds.

However, the public is outraged.

They're concerned about slower delivery times. The new plan gets rid of same day delivery and instead guarantees 2-3 day service.

"This plan is absurd," Secretary of State Linda McCulloch testified. "What guarantee can the postal service provide to ensure that consolidation will not affect the timely delivery and prompt return of mail ballots?"

This isn't the first time the Helena branch has been cut. Outgoing mail processing was moved out of Helena at the end of 2011.

Postal union President Janet Kosnik says she doubts it's saving taxpayers any money.

"Helena was I think too effective. We had good numbers and they took that away from us. Now people are suffering locally and statewide in reduced service," Kosnik added.

IBEW Union Representative Keith Allen said the plan was dim-witted,

"It would be better for us if you'd simply admit that you are the mouthpiece for management and a request to dismember the postal service so it may ultimately be privatized. We won't like it but we can accept the truth if you just admit that's what you are trying to do alongside destroying good paying union jobs," Allen told the USPS representatives.

The Postal Service reports it will take all the comment from the meeting and take it into consideration as they finalize plans.

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