Downtown Albany's post office at 345 W. Broad Ave.
ALBANY, Ga. — Ripples from the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement of the planned closure of a downtown post office could cost taxpayers, ratepayers and business owners thousands of dollars, officials say.
Businesses that have downtown post office boxes will be forced to change those numbers in order to shift the boxes from the downtown post office to the South Slappey Boulevard location, a move that will force everyone from the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission to area businesses to toss thousands of dollars worth of pre-stamped envelopes, letterheads, billing invoices and business cards.
“It’s going to cost us thousands and thousands of dollars,” WG&L General Manager Lemuel Edwards said Wednesday. “We just had 100 cases of envelopes come in that are pre-stamped with our post office box. If that number changes, which we are being told will have to happen, that’s $15,000 we’ll have to shred right there.”
The city of Albany is taking steps to assess exactly what impact the closure of the post office will have, Assistant City Manager Wes Smith said.
“There’s no doubt it’s going to have an impact on us. The question is to what extent,” Smith said. “And right now, we’re working with our department heads to try and determine that.”
Smith sent an email to all city department heads Wednesday morning requesting information from each department on how they might be impacted.
Deputy Dougherty County Administrator Mike McCoy made a similar statement saying that the county is working to determine to what extent the government will feel the pain of the closure.
“Just about every county department will feel this, from the tax department to the courts, whether it’s a full or partial closure,” McCoy said. “We’re working to get a better understanding of exactly how the closure will affect us. Our plan at this point is to relocate our post office boxes to the main post office on South Slappey Boulevard.
“This is going to cost a lot of people a lot of money. But, on the flip side, I guess it’s going to be a boon for printing businesses.”
Earlier this week, The Herald reported that the USPS would cease operations at its Broad Avenue Post Office by Dec. 2.
Stephen Seewoester of Corporate Communications for the Postal Service’s Florida District said the closure would not result in any terminations. Instead, he said, employees would be reassigned to other postal facilities.
“Those decisions are based on volume of retail sales per square foot of retail space,” Seewoester said. “That facility is down over the past several years, like many others are.”
The U.S. Postal Service is down more than 40 billion mail pieces over the past five years, Seewoester said. To survive, the Post Office relies on the sale of its products and services.
The move has sparked the ire of U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, who fired a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe this week demanding to know what information the USPS used to justify closing the branch.
The Albany Democrat, who is running for re-election against Republican John House, said in the letter he was concerned about the jobs of those at the post office location and the impact it could have on those doing business in Albany.
“I am concerned about the negative impact a sudden closure of the Broad Avenue Post Office will have on Albany and the surrounding communities,” Bishop said. “The jobs, businesses and residents of Albany that rely on our local branch deserve the right to know why the office is closing and what their best options will be in the future.”
According to Bishop, the USPS’s lease had expired on the Broad Avenue location and officials decided not to renew it.