Helena Independent Record: Citizens express skepticism about postal service consolidation

It seemed to be a room with more than 50 individuals against a handful of United States Postal Service officials Tuesday night as the agency attempted to explain the details of its controversial mail processing consolidation proposal to an intensely skeptical audience.

It’s been more than a month since the Postal Service announced plans to look into the feasibility of moving Helena’s mail sorting operations to Great Falls, and the public meeting in the Great Northern Hotel was a means of presenting the preliminary results of the study and collecting community feedback — which turned out to be overwhelmingly negative.

The general message from the members of the public who spoke was that the Postal Service management needs to be more transparent in its operations and the mail processing consolidation plan needs to simply be abandoned.

A staff representative for each member of Montana’s congressional delegation was present at the meeting. Prior to the gathering, both senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester had weighed in on the issue.

“Postal Service jobs are critically important in Montana, and Montana post offices are anchors on our main streets,” Baucus said in a statement. “Montanans’ concerns need to be taken into account whenever decisions are made. We rely on these critical jobs and our high quality mail service, and I’ll follow this process closely to make sure Montana doesn’t get short-changed.”

Earlier this month, Tester wrote a letter to U.S. Postmaster Patrick Donahoe noting various concerns he had with consolidation in Montana, including the decision to close the agency’s Big Sky District Office in Billings and move management operations into a district office in Sioux Falls, S.D. He deemed the agency’s “lack of transparency” in its justification of the decision unacceptable, especially with jobs at stake.

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