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Posted Feb 23, 2012, 2:22 pm
Tucson's mail processing center at the city's Cherrybell post office will be closed, the U.S. Postal Service said Thursday.
No timeline was announced for the move to close the center, which sorts mail for all of Southern Arizona. Operations will be transferred to Phoenix, said a USPS official.
The closure is opposed by many local politicians, who point to increased service times, more than 300 lost jobs and a negative impact on voting by mail.
"This closure is unfair," said U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva.
"This plan will economically devastate the good people who work at the center and the wider Southern Arizona community. There has apparently been no consideration of the fact that local and regional economic losses will offset any savings the closure might produce," he said in a Thursday news release.
"Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable," USPS COO Megan Brennan said in a news release.
"The decision to consolidate mail processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure," she said.
Mail delivery times will increase by several days if the sorting center is closed, said City Councilman Richard Fimbres.
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"Costs to mail packages, letters or otherwise would rise. Social Security checks and other similar financial measures would be delayed. Prescriptions would be delayed. Government costs to mail their various items would increase," he said in a news release Thursday.
Fimbres urged those opposed to the closure to sign an online petition addressed to the Postal Service.
Mail-in balloting "would be severely affected," he said:
The Pima County Recorder has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice on this proposal, since it would disenfranchise the voting population, especially those using vote-by-mail, which is prevalent in Arizona. The Phoenix postmaster has admitted that the Phoenix Processing Center cannot handle all the vote-by-mail for the state and city elections.
Grijalva signed a letter earlier this month, along with 110 other congressmen, calling for a moratorium on postal center closures pending a review of the methodology USPS is using to determine which branches to close.
City Councilwoman Regina Romeo said she "vehemently objects" to the move, calling it "ill-considered."
"Tucson is a city of nearly 500,000 residents, and part of a greater metropolitan area of nearly one million, with Southern Arizona residents in communities spanning hundreds of miles across the state being severely affected by these dramatic service cuts," she said.
"A metropolitan area of our size and scope deserves the services appropriate for a community of our population, and the removal of the Cherrybell distribution station would demonstrate an absolute disservice to the taxpayers in our region," Romero said in a press release.