Huron mail processing center will be closed, says USPSThe U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday it will move all mail processing operations from the Dakota Central Processing & Distribution Facility in Huron to the Sioux Falls Processing & Distribution Facility.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
HURON — The Huron mail processing center is closing.
The U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday it will move all mail processing operations from the Dakota Central Processing & Distribution Facility in Huron to the Sioux Falls Processing & Distribution Facility.
Once the transfer is completed, the mail processing operation of Dakota Central will cease. No timeline was listed in a press release.
The Postal Service earlier this month said its quarterly loss grew to $3.3 billion amid declining mail. Postal officials have said they need to cut $20 billion by 2015 in order to stay profitable.
The Postal Service has estimated that closing the Huron mail processing plant and moving operations to a facility in Sioux Falls would save $2.2 million per year, but it would also slow first-class mail from overnight to two- to three-day delivery.
Karen Fredrickson, the Sioux Falls-based Postal Service marketing manager for the Dakotas District, which includes South and North Dakota, Montana and northwest Minnesota, said the closure will likely occur sometime this summer or early next year.
The closure may happen between June to February 2013, she said. Fredrickson said the closure will impact mail from Mitchell.
“From Mitchell, it will go directly to Sioux Falls and back,” she said.
Fredrickson said she wasn’t sure what that would mean for delivery times.
Most specifics are still being figured out, she said. That includes the status of the Huron center’s employees.
“We always try to find them jobs in locations that are within 50-mile radius,” Fredrickson said.
She said the USPS has a union contract with the workers. Fredrickson said she didn’t know if any incentive packages will be offered to employees to persuade them to retire or find other jobs.
Until a specific date is announced, residential and business mailers will continue to be served through the current facilities, according to the USPS.
However, the Rapid City Processing & Distribution Facility will remain open, according to the release.
The USPS determined “there was no significant opportunity to improve efficiency or service through consolidation of mail processing operations, and no changes will be made at this time.”
The Postal Service has experienced a 25 percent decline in First-Class Mail volume since 2006, and receives no tax dollars for its operations, relying instead on the sale of postage, postal products and services.
“The decision to consolidate mail processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure,” said Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan. “Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation.”
However, an advocacy group said the decision isn’t final.
South Dakota Newspaper Association General Manager David Bordewyk, who leads the “Deliver the Mail” campaign, urged supporters of the center to put pressure on Congress.
“There is still a distinct possibility that this will not occur,” he wrote in an online statement Thursday. “Perhaps today’s news is some bluffing on the part of the USPS to get Congress to act. We agree: The U.S. Senate needs pass comprehensive postal reform legislation — S. 1789. And pass it now to protect 6-day mail delivery and timely mail delivery all across South Dakota.”
Fredrickson said that seems unlikely.
“I am not sure what congressional action is possible, but I never say never to anything,” she said with a laugh. “You know how that goes.”
In December 2011, the Postal Service agreed to impose a moratorium on closing or consolidating post offices and mail processing facilities prior to May 15 to give Congress and the Obama administration the opportunity to enact an alternative plan.
This delay was designed to allow Congress sufficient time to enact comprehensive postal legislation.
In the meantime, the Postal Service continued all necessary steps required for the review of these facilities, including public notifications, public input meetings and consideration of public comments.
Implementation of this consolidation is contingent upon the outcome of pending rulemaking for a proposal to revise existing service standards. This announcement is provided in advance so that appropriate planning and notification can be made in accordance with existing employee agreements.
A list of mail processing studies and their status is available at usps.com/ourfuturenetwork.
Specific information about individual studies, including public meeting summaries and summary briefs, is posted on the website, usps.com/areamailprocessing, as it becomes available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.<.i>