Postal Service looks at closing Kent distribution center

The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing its Kent Delivery and Distribution Center but no decision has been made yet.

"Any decision on the facility would not be made until about next February or March," said Ernie Swanson, spokesman in Seattle for the U.S. Postal Service, in a Tuesday email.

The Postal Service announced Monday in Washington, D.C., that it plans to move forward with a proposal to change service standards and close distribution facilities in an effort to reduce revenue loss, according to a Postal Service media release.

“The U.S. Postal Service must reduce its operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 in order to return to profitability,” said David Williams, vice president of Network Operations, in the media release. “The proposed changes to service standards will allow for significant consolidation of the postal network in terms of facilities, processing equipment, vehicles and employee workforce and will generate projected net annual savings of approximately $2.1 billion.”

On Sept. 15, the Postal Service announced it would begin studying 252 out of 487 mail processing facilities for possible closure. That list of 252 includes the Kent facility as well as centers in Everett, Olympia, Pasco, Redmond, Fife and Tacoma.

The 112 employees in Kent help sort mail for distribution to post offices in the South King County area, Swanson said. The Kent facility is along 64th Avenue South, just south of West Meeker Street.

Swanson was uncertain how many Kent employees might lose their jobs if the center closes.

"If it is closed, every effort would be made to help those impacted find other jobs in the USPS in the area," Swanson said.

Work currently done in Kent would be shifted to the Seattle Processing and Distribution Center.

The Postal Service wants to change, through the rule-making process, to move first-class mail to a two-or three-day delivery standard rather than one to three days. That lower standard would allow the Postal Service to cut down on its number of distribution centers.

The Postal Service will send to the Postal Regulatory Commission a request for an advisory opinion regarding service standard changes. Shortly thereafter, the Postal Service will publish a notice in the Federal Register soliciting public comment on the specific proposed changes.

According to the Associated Press, the Postal Service lost $5.1 billion in the past year. First-class mail volume has declined from 98 million in 2006 to 78 million per year.

Over the last several years, more people are using the Internet to pay bills and communicate through email rather than using the Postal Service.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.


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