At the end of an often fiery Tuesday meeting on whether the U.S. Postal Service should consolidate its Twin Falls processing center, postal worker Andrea Price rallied the crowd for one last statement.
“No moving our mail to Boise!” the crowd of 125-plus shouted.
“I heard you,” responded Ken McArthur, USPS district manager for Utah and southern Idaho, somewhat jovially.
Price, who works in the downtown Twin Falls office, was one of dozens to grill McArthur on a proposal to move the mail processing center, a cost-cutting measure the USPS estimates will save more than $600,000. The USPS is an independent federal agency intended to be self-sufficient, though it has been borrowing cash from the government to cover debts in recent years. It has also started closing small post offices across the nation.
The USPS has taken a battering from a decline in use — 42 percent in 10 years — instigated by digital services such as email and online bill pay, McArthur said. This year alone it expects to be $8 billion in the hole, he said.
Price criticized the agency as being “top heavy.” Others said the Postal Service should drop “service” from its title if it is going to ship Twin Falls mail 130 miles to Boise, only to ship it right back to the Magic Valley. More questioned the seeming logistic magic of moving mail that far with the promise of no extra days for delivery. (McArthur said superior technology in Boise will cover the service gap.)
Shelly Kolar, laboratory manager for Magic Valley Labs Inc., said any decline in service could amount to the USPS shuttering the 16-year-old business. It does water testing and if the samples aren’t tested within 30 hours of collection, they become useless, she said. Her testimony was one of several to draw applause.
McArthur, speaking for the USPS, said his agency would work with Magic Valley Labs and other local business owners who expressed concern at potential service declines.
But cost-cutting measures need to happen, he said, and changes like canceling Saturday service or cutting the cash banked for employee health benefits need approval from a sluggish Congress. He also emphasized that closing the Twin Falls processing center isn’t a done deal.
“We are an organization that is losing $8.5 billion,” McArthur said. “And when you have an organization that is losing that kind of money, I would tell you it is not a healthy organization. We have to do difficult, gut-wrenching things ... we have to do the things we can to save this organization money and save this organization for the future.”