USPS Begins Budget Cuts in Springfield and Cape Girardeau

Feb 23, 2012 at 2:21 pm
click to enlarge 223 Processing and Distribution Centers will be shut down under this plan. - handout handout
223 Processing and Distribution Centers will be shut down under this plan.
The Springfield and Cape Girardeau mail processing centers will be consolidated this year by the United States Postal Service, at a cost of 136 positions combined. Some of those jobs may be transferred to the Kansas City and Downtown St. Louis Sorting and Processing Facilities, which are assuming the duties of the two centers being closed. By agreement with the U.S. Congress, closures will not take place before May 15, 2012, to allow Congress time to develop an alternative plan. The clock starts today.

But the fact remains that the USPS needs to cut $20 billion from its budget by 2015, and consolidation will save a net $2.1 billion this year alone. The postal service does not receive tax payer money -- its income is derived from postal rates, and it first class mail usage has dropped 25 percent since 2006. Consolidation of facilities has been scheduled for 223 locations nationwide in an effort to reach those budgetary goals.

Springfield regional postal manager Gail Hendrix went on the record at a September hearing on the plan with concerns that next-day delivery will go away, at least in the Springfield region. The USPS concurs (pdf warning), noting that first class mail will change from a one- to three-day delivery period to a two- to three-day range, with the caveat that local service may be unaffected provided you get your letter in the mail early in the day. Indeed, sending your Springfield in-town mail on a 180-mile trip to Kansas City, only to have it sorted and sent back to Springfield, does seem to be an obstacle to speedy delivery.

Regardless, barring a radical and expedient plan from Congress -- and we've all seen how quickly they worked on extending the unemployment benefits -- consolidation will happen. It's just the first step in the USPS's cost-cutting plan, however: Next up on the agenda is the five-day mail delivery schedule.

The big question in this era of email and UPS is, "will anyone miss Saturday delivery?"