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Public hearing Wed. on closing Tucson's postal sorting center

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Public hearing Wed. on closing Tucson's postal sorting center

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The Postal Service will take public comments on the potential closure of Tucson's mail sorting facility at a meeting Wednesday night.

USPS is proposing to move the mail sorting done at the Tucson center to Phoenix, which would result in a savings of $14 million yearly.

That could result in hundreds of local jobs lost, longer mail delivery times, and higher rates on bulk mail for businesses and nonprofits, city leaders said.

Over 1 million pieces of mail are processed there each year, a news release from Tucson City Councilman Richard Fimbres said.

Up to 400 jobs may be lost if the facility is shuttered, Fimbres said. A release from Mayor Rothschild's office said 147 jobs will be lost and others may be transferred to Phoenix if the center is closed.

"This would be a substantial setback to the effort to rebuild Tucson’s economy," Fimbres said. "In addition, this would also hurt businesses who rely on the distribution center, the elderly who may pay bills by mail or wait for their Social Security checks and medication."

"If Tucson loses the Processing and Distribution Center, the effort to recruit companies to the area would be severely hampered, since the city would be one of the largest without a distribution center," Fimbres said.

Tucson’s Processing and Distribution Center, 1600 S. Cherrybell Stravenue, is located in the main post office complex.

The City Council voted 6-0 last week to oppose the closure of the mail sorting center.

The closure is only one possibility being considered by the Postal Service. The elimination of overnight service in the Tucson metro area as well as all of the 856* ZIP code areas are also on the table, Fimbres said.

"The current 1 to 3 day standard for first class delivery will become a 2 to 3 day standard. For periodicals the standard will become 2 to 9 days. Bulk mail could take even longer," according to the news release from Rothschild's spokeswoman Lisa Markkula.

Bulk mail rates could jump 4.3 cents per piece, Markkula said, a nearly 20 percent increase for businesses and a 40-48 percent jump for nonprofits.

The public hearing will be held at the Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church Ave., at 6 p.m. Business and non-profit users of bulk mail can address USPS representatives beginning at 4 p.m.

Comments to USPS will also be accepted by mail: Management, Consumer and Industry Contact, Arizona District, P.O. Box, 21628, Phoenix, AZ 85036-1628. Written comments must be postmarked by Jan. 12.

Demonstration, march planned

Some opponents of the closure of the Cherrybell sorting center plan a demonstration and march to Wednesday's public hearing.

From 4:30-5:15 p.m., they plan to demonstrate at Veinte de Agosto Park downtown, where Occupy Tucson protesters have been camping out, said organizer Alex Maldonado.

A march will take place at 5:15, east on Congress Street, south on 6th Avenue, west on Broadway and south to the Leo Rich Theater, where the public hearing will be held, he said.

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