BY ROGER LARSEN
OF THE PLAINSMAN
A loss of 45 U.S. Postal Service jobs at Huron’s Dakota Central mail-processing center would be a blow to the community, but a decision is far from finalized.
A Minneapolis corporate communications official with the Dakotas District said a study will “take a look at every option and decide to move all or part of it into another facility.”
Specifically, the postal service is examining whether it makes sense to relocate the mail processing that has been done in Huron for about 20 years to a Sioux Falls operation.
Peter Nowacki said a public meeting would be convened in Huron sometime this fall and “the entire process should probably take in the area of four months or so.”
Postal service officials could save $3 billion a year if they consolidate or close 250 of the more than 500 processing centers across the country. Ending Saturday delivery, laying off workers and closing post offices are also being examined to save money.
“It’s not a good deal,” Greater Huron Development Corporation Executive Director Jim Borszich said of the Dakota Central proposal. “Obviously, they’ve got to make some decisions.”
The overall financial condition of the postal service is not good, he said.
“We just have to wait and see what the outcome is going to be,” Borszich said. “Hopefully, we can see this postal facility stay open.”
Nowacki said postal service officials will take a look at the options from a business case standpoint where they study mail volumes and look at how the mail travels to determine if a move to Sioux Falls is feasible.
Also, they must determine whether the Sioux Falls operation is capable of handling additional volumes and whether they can still transport mail while maintaining quality services, he said.
All of the proposed moves, of course, are being studied to determine if they make sense by saving money. Huron would lose 45 jobs, but some of those employees might be able to relocate to other centers.
A first class letter that today takes one to three days to reach its destination would take two three days under the new service window.
“That’s certainly going to be the one thing people are going to notice,” Nowacki said.
However, a lot of mail won’t be impacted if it’s going several states away. It takes three days, and there will be no change there.
Already in the works is the planned relocation of processing centers in Aberdeen and Pierre to Huron.
“That’s still on target,” Nowacki said.
The Huron-Sioux Falls study is independent from the Aberdeen and Pierre moves, but he said he is assuming if Huron is moved to Sioux Falls then the Aberdeen and Pierre processing work would, too.
“My understanding is Aberdeen and Pierre will move regardless if we make the move with Huron,” he said.
The plan is to complete the Aberdeen and Pierre relocations by next April. That gives the postal service time to make those moves or adjustments depending on the outcome of the Huron study.
Eighty of the potential closures of local post offices are in South Dakota. Across the country, the postal service is studying the closure of more than 3,600 facilities.
With email and online banking, the volume of mail has declined dramatically in the last five years.
Borszich said local officials are prepared to resist any move to close Dakota Central, but are awaiting the public meeting and the findings of the study.
“It certainly isn’t a done deal by any means,” he said. “It takes time to do studies and ample time for input and discussion on impacts.”
But it’s also clear the U.S. Postal Service must try to stop the bleeding.
“It’s like managing any business,” Borszich said. “If it’s not working, you have to find ways to fix it.”
For the complete article see the 09-16-2011 issue.
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