ALBANY ALBANY, Ga. — The Dougherty County Commission is sending a letter to the county’s congressional delegation, asking the lawmakers to prevent the U.S. Postal Service’s closing of its mail processing facility on South Slappey Boulevard.
The U.S. Postal Service is cutting thousands of jobs and closing facilities across the nation in an effort to avoid insolvency. Among the measures being taken is the consolidation of mail processing centers, and Albany’s center is on the list.
While Albany’s post offices are not in jeopardy, its processing facility — which sorts and routes mail from throughout Southwest Georgia — is in danger of being shuttered.
The Dougherty County Commission, concerned about the impact closing the facility would have on jobs, authorized Chairman Jeff Sinyard to write a letter on behalf of the commission to Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, and Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie and Johnny Isakson, R-Atlanta, urging them to do whatever they can to keep the Albany center off the chopping block.
“That center is important not only for making sure the mail gets delivered correctly and on time, but for the jobs of the people that work there,” Sinyard said. “We need to be adding jobs, not cutting them at this important time.”
When the letter hits Bishop’s desk, it will have found the co-sponsor of legislation intended to help relieve the USPS’s multi-billion overpayments to its employee retirement and pension funds.
In addition to signing a letter asking the Postal Regulatory Commission to re-consider its decision to close postal facilities throughout the country, spokesman Micah Ragland said that Bishop co-sponsored a bill this summer that instructs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to recalculate USPS payments to the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) using updated technology.
Independent actuarial studies have concluded that as a result of improper funding formulas, the USPS has overpaid CSRS by $50 billion to $75 billion, he said.
“The congressman has also co-sponsored The USPS Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011 (H.R. 1351). The goal of the legislation is to help put the Postal Service back on track to fiscal solvency so that it does not have to resort to closing post offices in order to cut its budget costs,” Ragland said.
The impact on the consolidation of processing centers isn’t yet known, although USPS officials have said it could delay the delivery of first-class mail.
At the Dougherty County Tax Office, which sends and receives hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail each year, the possible changes are unsettling.
“Mailing notices and receiving payments are critical for us,” Dougherty Tax Director Denver Collins Hooten said. “Many of the things we have to send are on some kind of deadline and those could be impacted when you start factoring in delays of mailing notices.”
Hooten pointed to the annual assessment process as a possible area that could become problematic.
The office sends out more than 30,000 property tax assessment notices during the spring. Property owners have a 45-day window from the time the notice is mailed to submit an appeal and if the notices are mailed to the resident and mailed back, it could trim days off of that period.
At Albany’s Water, Gas & Light Commission, which sends out thousands of bills each month, officials are waiting to meet with USPS officials about the impact on them.
“There’s a meeting tomorrow and you can bet we’ll have representatives there,” General Manager Lemuel Edwards said. “We do a lot of mailing, so we’re just going to get all of the information and do what we can.”
There’s going to be a public hearing on the campus of Albany Technical College at 6 p.m. today to discuss the matter with the USPS. That hearing will be in the Kirkland building on campus.