We need to sort this out

Proposal to end mail processing here ought to be stamped out

Normally, a delay at the Post Office isn’t such a good thing.

This one may be a godsend.

The U.S. Postal Service has plans to close some 3,700 local post offices and 252 mail-processing facilities – including Augusta’s processing facility, meaning local mail would be routed through Macon or Columbia, depending on your zip code.

That’s just crazy. Why would Georgia’s second-largest city be first in line for such a closure? And to think, a letter you send to your neighbor would be trucked down to Macon or over to Columbia, then sorted and sent back? How inefficient and silly is that?

Thankfully, the Postal Service has announced a five-month reprieve, until May 15, to give Congress (and the rest of us) time to consider alternatives.

There are many. Changing to five-day delivery is one. And there is a lot of fat in the civil service system that could be trimmed with a little courage.

Restructuring and, yes, closing some facilities will likely be necessary; mail volume, and revenue, has dropped over the years as more consumers use electronic bill payment and e-mails to communicate. As a result of this, and high legacy costs, the Postal Service is facing an estimated $14 billion in fiscal 2012.

But we need to make sure the reorganization is done wisely, with efficiency front and center – and not the meat-cleaver methods so often employed in political decision-making. In addition, if the changes only add to delivery time – as they surely will – then that will likely further erode the public’s reliance on what they call “snail mail.” The danger is that a spiral downward becomes a nosedive.

People who rely on such things as government checks would no doubt be hit hardest.

A public hearing on the proposed closing is still scheduled for tonight at 6 o’clock at the Kroc Center, 1833 Broad St. We still need to show up and voice our concerns. While the reprieve has been granted, the mail processing center still sits on death row.

Tell them to take their proposal and mark “Return to Sender” on it.

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