By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – For the second time in as many years, Tupelo’s postal operations face consolidation, despite local opposition.
The U.S. Postal Service this week announced it can save time and money by shipping some outgoing mail processing operations from Tupelo to Grenada, according to the results of a preliminary study.
Postal officials will hold a public hearing on the plan at 7 p.m., July 6, at the Link Centre.
“While no final decision has been reached,” a USPS statement read, “postal service managers will give an overview of the reasons for the proposal and its possible outcomes and will listen to community input and concerns.”
USPS officials won’t release study details until the hearing, but Tupelo Processing Clerk Steven Joslyn said local employees were told Tuesday the consolidation would save the agency $400,000 annually and affect eight workers.
Agency spokeswoman Nancy Ross confirmed those figures to the Daily Journal.
Joslyn said he and other employees oppose the move and doubt it will achieve the desired effect.
It’s the second consolidation recently proposed for Tupelo’s postal operations. The first would have moved outgoing mail processing to Memphis. The USPS held a public hearing on that plan in January 2010 and approved the move in July the same year.
It would have saved the agency an estimated $181,000 annually and affected six positions locally.
But the Memphis consolidation, which was to take place by October, was first postponed and then ultimately scrapped.
In February, the USPS announced it would study instead shipping Tupelo’s outgoing mail operations to Grenada. The study’s results released this week apparently support the move.
Outgoing mail from this area is processed in Tupelo at the Thomas Street branch. Workers there sort, categorize, stamp and ship items originating from ZIP codes that begin with 388.
An average 100,000 pieces of mail go through that facility daily, Joslyn said.
If the consolidation is approved, those functions would occur in Grenada and Tupelo would lose its postmark – except when customers hand-deliver their outgoing mail to the post office and specifically request a postmark.
Hundreds of people, including postal workers and public officials, had attended the previous public hearing to express outrage over the proposed consolidation. Among their complaints were local job losses in an already tough economy and the potential to delay mail delivery.
The USPS had said it would reassign all affected employees, though not necessarily keep them in Tupelo. And it denied the consolidation would delay mail delivery times.
Also in opposition last year were Mayor Jack Reed Jr., both of Mississippi’s U.S. senators and the region’s U.S. representative.
Contacted Wednesday, Reed said he will reaffirm his dissent to postal officials concerning the most recent plan.
Tupelo’s consolidation is among more than 65 currently under review by the USPS as the agency struggles to stay financially viable amid declining mail volume. Roughly the same number of consolidations already have been approved or implemented across the nation since 2009.
“Five or six years ago, we processed 230 billion pieces of mail a year, and now it’s down to 170 billion,” Ross said. “Technology has really cut into our first-class mail, and that’s what triggered these studies.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
– What: The U.S. Postal Service will explain the results of a study recommending it consolidate some of Tupelo’s outgoing mail operations to Grenada
– When: 7 p.m. on July 6
– Where: The Link Centre, 1800 W. Main St., Tupelo