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Grijalva pens bill to change postal-center closing process

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Grijalva pens bill to change postal-center closing process

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U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at saving a Tucson postal-sorting center slated for closure. The bill would direct the Postal Service to take "high-growth" ZIP codes into account when deciding which facilities to shutter.

The bill is intended to correct "an oversight that has skewed USPS closure planning since the announcement several months ago that thousands of postal centers would be closed nationwide," said Grijalva's spokesman.

The Postal Service announced last month that it would close the central mail processing center at Tucson's Cherrybell post office.

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, lost jobs and a negative impact on voting by mail.

"When USPS officials calculated which post offices, sorting centers and other facilities would be closed, the high pace of population growth in Arizona and other quickly growing areas was not taken into consideration. That oversight led to the recent announcement that the Tucson sorting center would be closed and all Arizona postal sorting would be moved to a single center in Phoenix," Adam Sarvana said in a press release Wednesday.

The bill would direct the Postal Service to work with the Commerce Department to review Census data in choosing which postal facilities to close.

"If this is about planning for the future, let's really plan for the future instead of saving a penny today by costing ourselves a dollar tomorrow," Grijalva said in the release.

"Cutting off economic activity in the highest-growth areas in the country is the opposite of responsible long-term budgeting. This is about saving Tucson and other rapidly growing parts of the country from getting cut off at the knees. It's as simple as that," he said.

The bill will be referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Sarvana said.

"Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable," USPS COO Megan Brennan said in Feb. 27 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 on the day USPS made its announcement.

"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.

Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez has filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department, saying the move may disenfranchise voters who use the mail to cast their ballots.

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