Jul 9, 2012 at 8:23 am
WAITE PARK, MN (KNSI) - It still looks like the Postal Service's mail processing facility in Waite Park will close sometime in early 2013.
It's been an ongoing debate for months, how to cut costs for the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, all while maintaining service to small communities as well as retaining jobs. Something's always got to give, and for now that something is a number of processing facilities, like the one in Waite Park.
"The processing centers in Rochester, Mankato and Waite Park would be moved sometime after the first of the year," Postal Service spokesman Pete Nowacki said. "The Mankato and St. Cloud operations would go into Minneapolis, the Rochester operation would go into our mail processing center in Eagan."
Close to 150 people work at the Waite Park center and Nowacki says the goal is to stay away from massive lay-offs.
"What we'll do is try to identify as many positions as possible...move as many people, be able to find landing spots for folks," Nowacki said.
Even after the Waite Park center closes, the Postal Service will maintain ownership of the building, meaning the business mail acceptance center will remain open and the space could be used to alleviate crowding in other aspects of Postal Service operations.
"We would keep those facilities; they would be used as transportation hub," Noawacki said. "Right now they are used as a transportation hub for a lot of small offices in that area and they would still fill that role."
While the sorting facility may have a dim future, the news is better for about 13,000 small post offices around the country, including 400 in Minnesota as Nowacki says plans are in the works to keep those offices open.
"What we're looking at doing is keeping those facilities open and we are looking at those offices and a number of other offices where instead we'd reduce the number of window hours that an office would be open," Nowacki said.
It might mean only staying open 2 or 3 hours a day, but for many, that's better than the alternative of losing a key piece of any town completely.
"We know that post offices are import to folks, especially in smaller towns. They server not only as a place to buy stamps and mail packages, but folks do look at them as a sign of community identity," Nowacki said. "This gives us a chance to look at some long term savings while still maintaining a presence in all these communities."
The Postal Service posted a loss of over $5 billion last year, prompting the consolidation plans in attempt to keep the U.S. mail operations alive. When all of the consolidations are completed, it'll be a cut of 28,000 employees, but an estimated annual cost-cutting relief of $2.1 billion.