Quincy is fighting. Springfield is watching. The U.S. Postal Service is expected to get study results in about a month on the feasibility of relocating pieces of the Quincy postal operation to the main post office in Springfield. The postal service is looking nationwide at consolidation of branches and processing operations after reporting a loss of $2.8 billion for the federal fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30.
Quincy is fighting. Springfield is watching.
The U.S. Postal Service is expected to get study results in about a month on the feasibility of relocating pieces of the Quincy postal operation to the main post office on Cook Street in Springfield.
But a postal service spokesman in Chicago said Tuesday the agency has “clarified” the study goal to calm concerns in Quincy that the entire operation, including about 70 jobs, might be leaving town.
“There seemed to be some misunderstanding about the possibility of closing the plant. It was never about closing the plant. It was more about moving the collection mail from Springfield to Quincy,” said Jim Mruk, who represents the Great Lakes Region.
“Collection mail” is mail left in drop boxes.
The postal service is looking nationwide at consolidation of branches and processing operations after reporting a loss of $2.8 billion for the federal fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30. Losses have continued to pile up this fiscal year, totaling nearly $2.3 billion for the six-month period ended March 31.
Post officials say the slow economy also has continued to cut into the volume of mail, which is down 4.5 percent in the last fiscal year and nearly 10 percent in the three-month period that ended on March 31.
“I guess from a Quincy, tri-state perspective, we’re breathing much better,” said Jim Mentesti, president of the Great River Economic Development Partnership in Quincy.
Mentesti said postal facilities in small towns just across the Mississippi River in Missouri and Iowa also could be affected. However, he said there appears to be no immediate threat that the Quincy operation would be shut down.
“We don’t take anything for granted, but retention is one of the areas we spend the vast majority of our time on. We’re being very cautious,” he said.
Spokeswoman Sarah Wolin of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce said the chamber is monitoring developments in Quincy. The chamber is leading a local campaign begun in 2007 to create or retain 4,500 jobs in Sangamon County by 2012, but Wolin said the Quincy postal operation is not a target of the effort.
“We understand it’s a federal decision, and we’ll leave it up to federal officials at this point,” said Wolin.
Elected officials nationwide have weighed in on plans to close and cut back local postal operations. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who is from Springfield, last month introduced a bill in Congress to block any move of the Quincy operations.
Mruk said it is possible the postal study will come back with a finding it would be economically infeasible to move the collection-mail operations from Quincy to Springfield, or that it would hurt mail delivery time.
Tim Landis can be reached at (217) 788-1536 or firstname.lastname@example.org.