HTRNews: USPS to close 3 MT mail processing centers

The Postal Service said Thursday that a Missoula mail processing center is being spared from closures that will shutter three other facilities in Montana, perhaps leading to a net loss of 11 jobs in the state.

The USPS says that mail processing work in Wolf Point will be moved to Billings, while processing done in Helena and Butte will be moved to Great Falls. The agency plans to continue to study whether work done at the Kalispell processing center should be moved to Missoula.

No timetable has been set for the cuts, which were announced Thursday in places around the country. Congress has several months to intervene with legislation that would alter cost-cutting plans. The agency says cuts are needed to meet budget demands exacerbated by a 25 percent decline in mail volume since 2006.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said he spoke to the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe earlier in the day, and was pleased that the state is at least able to keep the Missoula, and perhaps the Kalispell, facilities.

The Democrat said in an interview that Donahoe was persuaded that moving Missoula processing to Spokane, Wash., would harm service.

“The bottom line is that we expressed some real problems with getting mail over the pass in winter time,” Tester said. “He said, ‘we’re going to keep it open because your point was a good one, because it is going to have more negative impacts than money it will save.'”

Tester said he still hopes 80 rural post offices will be spared from other potential cost-cutting closures. He said a bill will soon be coming from the Senate floor to make the change.

“We have a lot more work to do but this is a step in the right direction and a realization by him that rural America is different,” Tester said. “We are going to keep pushing along those lines. But the bottom line is that there are a lot of elderly folks in these rural communities that rely on these post offices to get their medication, their farm parts, everything.”

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