Postal Service to delay decision on closures until May 2012
Online Staff Report
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced it will not close any post offices or mail processing facilities — including the facility in Rockford — until May 15, 2012. The delay comes at the request of numerous U.S. representatives and senators.
In a Dec. 13 release, USPS stated: “The Postal Service will continue all necessary steps required for the review of these facilities during the interim period, including public input meetings.”
A nationwide consolidation study recommended the closure of 252 mail processing centers and nearly 4,000 post offices. Rockford’s processing center, at 5225 Harrison Ave., was among the facilities slated for closure, with the operations being moved to a Madison, Wis., facility.
The closure of the Rockford facility would cost the area nearly 200 jobs and would cause delays in mail delivery to homes and businesses in the eight northern Illinois counties served by the Rockford facility — Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Jo Daviess, Carroll, Whiteside, Ogle and Lee.
A public meeting to discuss the proposal is set for 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 5, at Best Western Clock Tower Resort & Conference Center, 7801 E. State St., Rockford.
USPS has said it needs to cut billions of dollars a year in operating expenses to remain a viable entity. The agency reportedly faces a projected $14.1 billion shortfall for 2012.
Revenue for the agency, which employs more than 574,000 workers and operates more than 218,000 vehicles, has been dropping as a result of declining mail volume.
One of the biggest challenges the agency faced this year was making a $5.5 billion payment into a retiree health benefit fund. USPS has been granted extensions, although the looming payment remains.
USPS is an independent agency of the United States government and has not received any tax dollars since the early 1980s, with the exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters. Congressional approval is required for all USPS business decisions.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has repeatedly said the agency needs Congressional restrictions removed so it can compete in the marketplace and operate as a traditional business.
A summary of the proposed closure of the Rockford facility and presentation materials will be made available online one week prior to the Jan. 5 meeting at http://about.usps.com/streamlining-operations/area-mail-processing.htm.
Anyone who wishes to submit comments in writing can send them to Manager of Consumer and Industry Contact, Lakeland District, P.O. Box 5008, Milwaukee, WI, 53201-5008. Public comments will be accepted through Jan. 21, 2012.