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U.S. Postal Service to close Augusta mail processing center

Postal service plans move to reduce costs

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 11:25 AM
Last updated Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 1:48 AM
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Candy Hargrove mails letters from an accounting firm in Augusta. The U.S. Postal Service announced it intends to close Augusta's mail processing facility.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Candy Hargrove mails letters from an accounting firm in Augusta. The U.S. Postal Service announced it intends to close Augusta's mail processing facility.

The U.S. Postal Service announced Thurs­day that it plans to move mail processing and distribution out of Augusta, one of 223 closings nationwide, which ultimately will lengthen the time it takes first-class mail to get from one mailbox to the next.

The closures will affect more than 30,000 postal workers and save about $2.1 billion a year, according to figures provided by the Postal Service.

“As a result of studies begun five months ago, the Postal Service has made the decision to move all mail processing operations from the Augusta Processing and Distribution Facility to the Columbia, S.C., and Macon Processing and Distribution Centers,” according to a news release from the Postal Service. “Once the transfer is completed, the mail processing operation in Augusta will cease.”

The announcement listed 13 other facility closings in Georgia, including Athens and Swainsboro, and one in South Carolina.

A date has not been set for the transition, and there would be no change to retail service at the Augusta post office, according to the announcement. Also, bulk mail services provided at the main Augusta post office will not be affected by the closure, Postal Service spokesman Stephen Seewoester said.

Seewoester said the number of employees affected in Augusta has not been determined. Some employees might move to other jobs at other facilities, he said. The Postal Service previously said there could be 30 jobs lost, with 80 employees transferring to expanded plants in Macon, Ga., and Columbia.

“We won’t know the number of employees who will be leaving our workforce until much later in this process,” Seewoester said in an e-mail. “We project nationally a reduction of 30,000 full-time and 5,000 noncareer positions.”

He said the announcement was made to provide time for planning and notification to employees to comply with existing labor agreements.

It caught some by surprise, however, considering the Postal Service had agreed in December to a moratorium on closing or consolidating post offices and mail-processing facilities until May 15.

“Not only was I not informed, but we had a fixed and firm agreement from the Postal Service that we would be notified before any announcement to Postal Service customers or employees,” said U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.

Barrow said the agreement was to allow time for his office to advocate on behalf of his constituents.

He said even after he heard about the announcement Thursday, he had trouble getting complete information from the Postal Service.

“We can’t get a straight answer,” he said.

The Postal Service said the planned consolidation is contingent on the “outcome of pending rulemaking for a proposal to revise existing service standards,” which would lengthen the time it takes some mail to be delivered.

“The decision to consolidate mail-processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail-processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure,” Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan said. “Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation.”

Mark Barkley said he visits the Augusta main post office at least twice each week with business mail that needs to be delivered across the country. He mailed more than 400 pieces of mail Thursday.

“I certainly am not in favor of it,” he said, referring to the closure.

Barkley said he probably would resort to paying extra to have some mail taken directly to the processing center in Columbia to make sure it gets delivered in a timely manner.

“It won’t be free, but I may have to do that,” he said.

Gerald Engelking said he also relies on timely delivery because he works as a courier for a law office in Augusta. He said he often brings mail downtown to the Augusta office to ensure it is processed the same day. Closing the Augusta mail processing center will be a problem for his employers he said.

“That’s not going to help us out,” he said.

Barrow said he hopes there is still a way to keep Augusta’s center open, but even if that doesn’t happen, there needs to be more discussion put into revamping America’s postal system.Saving one processing plant will not have a great impact when so many others are closing, he said, and the result will be felt by businesses that rely on mail delivery across the nation. He said he is not sure the full economic impact has been calculated by those looking at the Postal Service’s bottom line.

“It will result in a delay of all the mail, all of the time,” Barrow said.

SERVICE STANDARDS COULD CHANGE

The Postal Service is proposing to modify existing service standards for first-class mail and periodicals. The main impact of the proposal, if adopted, would be to eliminate the expectation of overnight service.

                                       CURRENT            POSSIBLE

Priority mail                   1-3 days                   1-3 days

First-class mail              1-3 days                   2-3 days

Periodicals                      1-9 days                   2-9 days

Package services            1-8 days                   1-8 days

Standard mail                3-10 days                 3-10 days

Comments (18) Add comment
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smbga
38
Points
smbga 02/23/12 - 12:41 pm
2
0
so what does this mean for

so what does this mean for the augusta area??

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 02/23/12 - 12:50 pm
1
0
gonna be a hella big building

gonna be a hella big building sitting empty there across from JB Arena

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/23/12 - 12:57 pm
1
1
The building won't be

The building won't be empty...

iLove
626
Points
iLove 02/23/12 - 12:58 pm
1
0
Yea, the building is DT...I
Unpublished

Yea, the building is DT...I am sure MCG will buy it...

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/23/12 - 01:17 pm
1
4
They're only consolidating

They're only consolidating the mail processing operations, and the building won't be empty..

People can still use the post office downtown after today..

Mello Knee
1
Points
Mello Knee 02/23/12 - 01:42 pm
1
0
@countyman What exactly are

@countyman What exactly are they ceasing? What I'm asking, is how will this change mail services to businesses in Augusta?

countyman
19718
Points
countyman 02/23/12 - 01:59 pm
1
2
The mail processing

The mail processing operations(mail sent to Macon & Columbia first and then sorted through)..

I don't think anybody will know the full impact until atleast 2-3 months from now..

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 02/23/12 - 03:00 pm
4
0
It means a longer delivery

It means a longer delivery time.
Augusta gets the short end again. Who is representing this area, anyhow?
Do we have a vote in November and can we elect someone local who will work for us.

Just My Opinion
5456
Points
Just My Opinion 02/23/12 - 04:24 pm
5
0
Yeah, we're really missing

Yeah, we're really missing having someone in the right offices push and pull for what goes on here in Augusta. It means nothing for Augusta to be the second largest city in Georgia...nothing. Might be sour grapes, but I don't mean for it to be, but it sure seems like Macon gets taken care of pretty well, comparatively speaking. Oh, well. The postal service was slow to begin with, but now delivery will be even slower. We should conduct a test when this thing is up and running. Mail a postcard to your house from your neighbor's address right across the street, and see how long it takes to get to you!

kiwiinamerica
934
Points
kiwiinamerica 02/23/12 - 05:08 pm
0
0
In contrast to a great number
Unpublished

In contrast to a great number of other matters into which the government sticks its nose, usually with no moral or juridical justification, delivering the mail is actually a valid constitutional function of government. One of just a few.

The US Postal Service lost around $5 billion last year, perhaps a little more. It's a black hole that sucks in money which vanishes forever. Even with a monopoly like this, the gubmint still can't make money.

corgimom
31086
Points
corgimom 02/23/12 - 07:08 pm
3
0
Columbia sits on I-20 and

Columbia sits on I-20 and I-26, Macon sits on I-75. That's why they will be getting the Augusta mail.
Augusta is, and will continue to be, hard to get to, and has a lack of easy access to north-south routes. It's situated between two state capitals and is too close to both.

It's about location, location, location, and that will never change.

my.voice
4725
Points
my.voice 02/23/12 - 08:09 pm
3
0
Let's see.......my business

Let's see.......my business is losing money like a stuck pig, service is lousy, and so.......
1 - I continue to give away priority mail boxes like they were candy.
2 - I close the distribution hubs to guarantee service levels will decline.
3 - I continue to commission artists for stamp production.
4 - I continue to fund things like the tour de FRANCE, as that's a big advertisement bonus.
5 - I continue to pay our retirees ridiculous retirement wages because at one time we really did (do) think that money grows on trees.
6 - I raise my rates twice a year while decreasing service quality.
7 - I refuse to study the business models of successful business operations like amazon, ups, FedEx.

That about sums it up, doesn't it?

walrus4ever
354
Points
walrus4ever 02/23/12 - 08:21 pm
2
1
corgimom is spot on about the

corgimom is spot on about the real problem

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 02/23/12 - 09:21 pm
0
0
And now you know where the
Unpublished

And now you know where the TEE customers are going to meet and for the same reasons this activity moved - location location location.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 02/23/12 - 10:00 pm
0
0
I wonder how those US Mail
Unpublished

I wonder how those US Mail trucks..the ones with MAC-AUG on the back of the trailer... ever got from Macon to Augusta...

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 02/23/12 - 10:11 pm
1
0
Corgimom how do you get

Corgimom how do you get Augusta is between 2 state capitals and too close to both. Mapquest puts Macon 83 miles from Atlanta and Augusta is 147 miles. Seems to me Macon is about 60 miles closer to our state capital.

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 02/24/12 - 08:38 am
2
0
Wow! What a bad case of NIMBY

Wow! What a bad case of NIMBY going on here. Yammering, yammering about cutting government and then when it happens to you in your back yard the whinners weigh in.

Personnaly 85% of what comes to my mailbox is dead tree unsolicited junk. If my bills get here one day later so what? I'd just as soon never see a paper bill again. It would all be electronic and if I do need a hard copy, I have a printer.

This truly is one quasi-government agancy that could be cut and turned over to private industry. Times have changed and we should move on.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 02/24/12 - 08:53 am
1
0
The problem with the USPS is

The problem with the USPS is that congress is involved. The financial problem it faces now comes from a 2006 Congressional mandate that requires the agency to “pre-pay” into a fund that covers health care costs for future retired employees. Under the mandate, the USPS is required to make an annual $5.5 billion payment over ten years, through 2016. No other business does that. Get congress away from controlling any business and the USPS can fix itself.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 02/24/12 - 08:56 am
1
0
Also, go find out how much it

Also, go find out how much it would cost to have a letter send from your home to a family member or friend on the other side of the country via FedEx or UPS.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/24/12 - 09:16 am
2
0
Actually, the Post Office

Actually, the Post Office isn't losing money. Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, is forcing them to prefund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years in a 10 year period.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/24/12 - 09:24 am
1
0
Stay outa my head T. Had a

Stay outa my head T. Had a login issue and couldn't get my comment posted. Nice to know at least one other person knows what's really going on.

itsanotherday1
41941
Points
itsanotherday1 02/24/12 - 12:16 pm
1
0
Dittos TParty: "The problem

Dittos TParty: "The problem with the USPS is that congress is involved".

That, and the fact they are hamstrung by the union. I've said it before and say it again, cut the USPS loose and let them operate totally as a private entity. They will get it figured out.

I am sorry for the folks here that will lose their job, but if this move is what it takes to streamline operations and save money; well, that is how the business world operates, and I am glad to see them at least trying.

DoggieMom
226
Points
DoggieMom 02/25/12 - 05:09 am
1
0
So will this mean the two day

So will this mean the two day delivery for Priority mail no longer applies? If so, I have no choice but to use FedEx or UPS (which put together spells "FED UP"!!
The USPS is writing their own obituary!!
Every action will be sent via e-mail, and all bills paid on-line. I feel bad for the employees that have no part of this decision making, but it's a bad decision all around.

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