Postal planJamestown won’t be losing U.S. Postal Service jobs to a consolidation, but its postmark could become less common. Close to 40 concerned area residents found out the potential effects of consolidating USPS processing services to Fargo at a special meeting Thursday night.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown won’t be losing U.S. Postal Service jobs to a consolidation, but its postmark could become less common.
Close to 40 concerned area residents found out the potential effects of consolidating USPS processing services to Fargo at a special meeting Thursday night.
The USPS announced in March it would conduct an Area Mail Processing study for the Jamestown Post Office. The results were discussed Thursday night.
Before the meeting, the USPS said the move would cause three Jamestown jobs to be sent to Fargo and that consolidating processing would save $14,000 for the USPS annually.
“We’re not taking all of the operations in Jamestown and there will be some that will remain in Jamestown because we felt that was the right thing to do,” said Rickie Kunzweiler, USPS Dakotas District lead plant manager.
Also, the three people doing processing work in Jamestown would be assigned new jobs here instead of being transferred, Kunzweiler said.
“There wouldn’t be a loss of employment as it stands right now,” he said.
The other issue was the annual net savings of $14,000 by consolidating processing operations.
Nationwide the USPS has seen a decline in first-class single-piece-mail of 42.2 percent since 2001. Kunzweiler also said the USPS has been losing about $7 billion a year for the past three years, due to a decline in that type of mail. Over the past year or so, about 30 other AMP studies have resulted in a net savings of about $100 million per year.
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen pointed out that the savings are far less than the deficit.
John DiPeri, USPS Dakotas District manager, said cuts to bridge that gap are happening everywhere in USPS operations.
Across the country, 2,000 rural post offices will close, DiPeri said. He himself was affected by consolidations as the Big Sky District in Montana joined the Dakotas District last month.
Jamestown’s savings would come from the fact that processing machines here are 25 years old and cost more to maintain than more modern machines.
Previous upgrades in processing operations in other areas like Fargo now see a decrease in usage with the decline in first-class single-piece-mail.
“We’re not going to able to replace our equipment at this time so we have to look at making a different decision,” Kunzweiler said of Jamestown’s processing machines.
Routes are being redone to save on gasoline. The USPS spends an extra $8 million with every one-cent increase per gallon of gas.
“We talk about $14,000 savings,” he said. “The cost of gas could wipe that out. ... We’re worried about gas prices — that’s a big cost for us.”
The consolidation would take mail sent out of Jamestown to Fargo to be processed in Fargo and shipped back to Jamestown and delivered in the same time frame.
Mother Nature could play a role as well, with Interstate 94 closures in winter due to blizzards.
“There are times when it just shuts down, and when it shuts down there is nothing we can do,” Kunzweiler said of I-94. “But when that one road opens we are on it.”
The relocation of processing would also eliminate Jamestown’s postmark except for letters dropped off at the retail desk.
Former Jamestown mayor Clarice Leichty said she felt strongly about losing the mark that shows where the mail came from.
“I think it would really be a loss for us as a city to not have a Jamestown postmark,” Leichty said. “You’re downgrading our city, that’s what I see.”
The consolidation would also affect mail travel time. Jamestown would gain one-day delivery to the Thief River Falls, Minn., Grand Forks and Detroit Lakes, Minn., areas.
However, mail going from Bismarck to Jamestown and Aberdeen, S.D., to Jamestown would take two days.
The comments from this meeting will go into the AMP study that will be sent to Denver and Washington, D.C., for review, although the decision is ultimately up to the Dakotas District. Word should be announced sometime in mid-June.
“Once again this is a study, so this is an important part of our process,” DiPeri said of Thursday’s meeting.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org