Tupelo mail operations headed to Memphis again?

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A recent proposal to ship Tupelo’s mail operations to Grenada will be ditched in favor of a previous plan to send those services to Memphis.

U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Enola Rice confirmed the switch today but had no immediate information on what prompted the move.

The news came amid a national announcement that the USPS will cut its network of mail-processing facilities by more than half in an attempt to save $3 billion annually.

Declining mail volume as left the national agency scrambling to stay solvent.

As part of the sweep, nearly 250 facilities nationwide are being considered for closure or consolidation, including those in Tupelo, Grenada, Hattiesburg and Gulfport.

The USPS will launch a study to see if it’s feasible to send Tupelo’s mail processing to Memphis. The study will conclude early next year, according to a press release.

“This Area Mail Processing study involves a review of the mail processing and transportation operations to determine capacity needs within the postal network in order to increase efficiency and improve productivity,” the press release explained.

Tupelo’s mail-processing facility already had been eyed for consolidation. A proposal to move its outgoing operations to Memphis had been approved last year and scheduled to take place in October, but it never happened.

It would have saved the cash-strapped agency $181,000 annually and affected six local employees.

Then early this year, the USPS announced it instead would consider moving Tupelo’s incoming and outgoing mail operations to Grenada. Agency officials held a public hearing on the matter in July and were set to issue a final decision within a matter of weeks.

The move would have saved the agency an estimated $491,000 annually and affected eight local workers.

Mail is processed in Tupelo at the Thomas Street branch, which includes sorting, categorizing, stamping and shipping letters and packages originating from communities whose ZIP codes begin with 388.

An average 100,000 pieces of mail go through that facility daily, which employs about 20 people.

Rice had no immediate knowledge of what’s now on tap for Grenada, since it’s no longer being considered for Tupelo’s operations but still finds itself on the list of possible closures and consolidations.

Since 2006, the USPS has closed 186 facilities, removed 1,500 pieces of mail processing equipment and decreased employment by more than 110,000 people – all reducing costs by about $12 billion.

But it needs to save more.

“We are forced to face a new reality today,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “First-Class Mail supports the organization and drives network requirements. With the dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity, maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer realistic.”