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Commissioners seek to save postal center

The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing thousands of facilities across the country, with one Albany center on the list.

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

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.

Comments

supersquawker 2 years, 8 months ago

If you're listening to the national news, you would know that the local post offices ARE in jeopardy since the Post Office is 14 Billion dollars in debt (only one millionth the National Debt but who's counting??) and the closing of these sorting centers will only be a drop in the bucket.

But hey what are a few Billion or even Trillion dollars of debt between friends? America is a great nation and we can't let anybody sit on their ass and be without food, housing, cars, cell phones, plenty of babies, wide screen TV's, satellite dish, trash pickup, fuel for their BMW and their house which they owe several months back payments.......you get the drift. Just go see if China will float us a few more Ben Franks. We'll be OK tomorrow.

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JustAnotherVoice 2 years, 8 months ago

"After five years in the red, the post office faces imminent default this month on a $5.5 billion annual payment to the U.S. Treasury for retiree health benefits; it is projected to have a record loss of $14.1 billion next year amid steady declines in first-class mail volume. The agency must make cuts of $20 billion by 2015 to be profitable."

The post office is not supported by our tax dollars but yet is controlled by the government. It is a business that is failing. They must do what they must do to make it profitable or we, the people will be bailing out yet another failing "big business."

Although this article cites a few legitimate uses of the postal service, most of the mail is junk.

They should do whatever they need to to become profitable: Cut services, cut facilities, and cut benefits.

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whattheheck 2 years, 8 months ago

Ride through some of the small towns and look at the postal facilities (Willacoochee and Bronwood being two of many examples) which are way to large and expensive for the area being supported. Think about how many extra workers are required to provide 6-day a week delivery. The corporate overhead is incredible and the pay and benefits beyond even regular Federal employees. Throw in the unions and the typical bureaucrat mentality and you have a real loser on your hands.

It will never make a profit and Congress knew it when the gorilla was dumped from its back. The move to a corporation was designed to get rid of the annual deficits and the demands of a vocal and growing union.

But it retained the right to use the USPS for political favors or punishment as it sees fit--as it is doing now. And DoCo Commissioners are playing into the favor game just as Congress intended.

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Cartman 2 years, 8 months ago

If it will put union workers out of work - I say shut it down!

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Jacob 2 years, 8 months ago

For all of their clout and value, why didn't they just write a letter to Santa Claus...

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