Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler spoke with Sen. Mitch McConnell this past week to try to keep the city's USPS Carrier Annex, which is scheduled to close next year along with 81 other mail processing centers in a cost-saving consolidation.
Although the mayor believes preventing the Paducah consolidation is unlikely, she said it is worth the effort.
"We might not be successful, but we can't just stand back and let things happen," she said. "They've already begun the process, so why would they make an exception for us? But we have to try."
The U. S. Postal Service, which receives no taxpayer funding for operating costs, recorded $26 billion in financial losses over the past three years.
To prevent further loss, the Postal Service Board of Governors has approved the consolidation of mail processing facilities across the country. They include several facilities in Kentucky, including Paducah, Lexington, Ashland, Bowling Green, Campton, Elizabethtown, Hazard, London, Owensboro, Pikeville and Somerset.
The U.S. Postal Service says it's working to make the transition as smooth as possible.
"We're in a tough position," said David Walton, a spokesman in Louisville for the Kentuckiana District of the U.S. Postal Service. "The value of first-class mail has been dropping. It used to be the product we made the most money from, but now people use the Internet or the phone for paying bills."
Walton said the consolidation will not affect standard mail services, but only first-class mail and periodicals mail that the centers process, increasing the average amount of time for delivery of first-class and periodicals mail just slightly from 2.14 days to 2.25 days. Mail for Paducah will be sorted at a facility in Evansville, Indiana.
"There is an excess capacity," he said. "We no longer need these facilities."
About 15,000 employees - 43 of whom belong to Paducah's facility - will be affected by the "network rationalization."
Paducah's consolidation will save $2.1 million in its first year and $2.6 million every year afterward, Walton said.
It is projected that the completed consolidations overall will save more than $3.5 billion in the next five years.
Elected officials in several cities are still hoping to reverse consolidation decisions.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said last week that he "will again ask our congressional delegation to do everything they can to keep this facility in Lexington" after receiving much local opposition to the consolidation.
Paducah city officials, however, say they have not heard much backlash from the public.
"We have not had a lot of calls about it, but of course we're very concerned," said Sandra Wilson, president of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce. "One thing of course is the loss of jobs. Another thing is that Paducah really is a regional business hub for western Kentucky, so to divert that mail out of state is a huge concern for businesses in our area."
Upon hearing of Lexington's push to keep its processing center, Wilson believes Paducah should continue to do the same.
"I think any time we are going to be impacted by the loss of jobs and business, it is something that we should be concerned about. We have over 900 business members at the Chamber of Commerce that send out a lot of mail every day, in addition to other businesses in Paducah. We hate to see a loss of jobs and the loss of that service," she said.
Kaler also said she hasn't received much negative feedback "as far as emails or phone calls," but she will continue efforts to keep the local mail operation.
"As a local government, we don't have a lot of power, but we have a working relationship with people in Washington," she said. "We have found that working together as a group, you do have a lot of power. We asked Sen. McConnell to talk with the committee in Washington. All you can do is keep trying. In my opinion, it would be very devastating for our community."
Contact Katie Paxton, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8655.
Sharman Booker posted on: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:49 AM
Title: Postal Service Losing Jobs
I find it interesting that one major reason the Postal Service is reducing positions is due to the fact that Congress voted to require the USPS to pay expected retirement/pension costs forward for 75 years. No other business is required to do that. Of course Senator McConnell supported the move. Ironic that he is now "getting involved" here at election time!