Anger surrounded Wednesday evening’s town hall meeting as representatives from the United States Postal Service explained the organization’s delicate and rapid downturn in its financial situation.
The USPS held the meeting in Roswell to solicit public comment regarding its proposal to move mail processing operations from the city to Lubbock, Texas. On Sept. 15, the USPS began conducting a study at the Roswell Customer Service Mail Processing Center to determine the feasibility of consolidating its operations into the Lubbock Processing and Distribution Facility.
Peter Hass, spokesman for the USPS for New Mexico and Arizona, told the Daily Record in September that the economy, the reduction in mail volume and a 25 percent decrease in first-class mail volume over the past five years, have all been detrimental, causing the organization to examine ways in which it can be more efficient.
USPS, once a tax-driven organization, is no longer. Postage generates the funds to pay for the organization.
The decrease in first-class mail is arguably the greatest financial detriment to the organization. “First-class mail as a medium is disappearing. The bottom line is 60 percent of our revenue usually comes from first-class mail, that’s what it’s been for years. And now with the loss in first-class mail, that is having the biggest impact on us because we are not generating any money,” Mike Flores, one of the USPS representatives, said. He added that the Internet and the movement toward a paperless environment have contributed to this decrease in first-class mail.
Initial study results support the consolidation of mail processing operations in Roswell with the available processing capacity in Lubbock.
The USPS representatives presented study results such as proposed annual savings of $2,151,566. They also indicated that 22 jobs, 13 clerks and 9 maintenance workers from the Roswell mail processing center could be lost.
Those in attendance questioned proposed savings, asked about higher-level management bonuses and voiced strong concerns towards potential job losses.
“We are in an industry that is not a growing industry. How do we adjust to the lack of growth in the organization … the big issue is that at some point next year, they’re saying by October … the organization may not be able to make payroll,” Flores said. Last year, the USPS suffered an $8 billion loss.
Adding to the financial burden, the organization is required to put $5.5 billion a year in a fund for future retiree health benefits for future employees as part of the Postal Accountability Enhancement Act established in 2006.
Mayor Jurney said, “My philosophy says this. If Lubbock has a high density population, you can gather all that up and send it to Amarillo. But southeast New Mexico, being rural like it is, coming from spokes and from different areas, transportation costs are going to be outrageous in order to accomplish the same thing. It seems to me if you took one of those three (mail processing facilities) in West Texas and put it into southeast New Mexico, that you could probably accomplish some really positive things with that.”
The USPS maintains that all public comment will be strongly considered before any decision is made. This week, it said that it would hold off on any closures until at least May 15, 2012.
Public comments regarding the consolidation must be postmarked by Dec. 29. Comments can be sent to Attn: Manager, Consumer & Industry Contact, Arizona District, PO Box 21628, Phoenix, AZ 85036-1628.