Manasota postal facility faces closure

rdymond@bradenton.comSeptember 16, 2011 

MANATEE -- There are 148 employees at the U.S. Post Office’s Manasota Center mail processing unit on Tallevast Road and all were notified Thursday that their positions are in peril.

That’s because the financially troubled Post Office announced it may close more than 250 mail processing facilities across the nation, including the Manasota Center, in an effort to cut costs.

“All the facilities on the list will be reviewed to determine if it will be feasible to move their mail to another city for processing,” said Enola Rice, spokeswoman for the U.S. Post Office for a third of Florida and Mississippi.

The Tampa Processing Center is the site where the local mail could be processed if a decision is made to close the Manasota Center, Rice added.

No decision will be made until a study is finished in early 2012 to determine exactly how Manatee’s mail service would be impacted by such a transition, Rice said.

“If moving the mail to Tampa would create what we call a ‘different service standard,’ we need to see what that standard would be,” Rice said. “We need to see how it would change the amount of time it takes for Manatee residents to get their mail. Each of these studies is done on a case-by-case basis.”

Rice was careful to point out that if the Manasota Center is closed, all 148 employees will be offered other positions within the postal service.

“That is keeping with the collective bargaining contract with the American Postal Workers Union,” Rice added.

John Musin, Bradenton’s postmaster, referred all questions and comments to Rice.

The Post Office expects to lose $10 billion this year due to the reduction in first class mail, Rice said.

“That’s billion with a ‘B.’ “ Rice said. “We are losing money because first class mail usage has declined. We have closed 186 facilities in the last five years. Some were post offices, some were administrative offices and some were processing centers. We are going through a total redesign of who we are.”

The Post Office lost $8.5 billion last year.

There was no screaming or crying at Manasota Center Thursday when the list came out. Employees were well aware that change is part of being a U.S. Post Office employee these days, Rice said.

“We have been changing as trends have changed,” Rice said.

The Post Office is trying to determine how it can best serve the public and become a money-maker in the digital age.

It does have a web site, www.usps.com, that gets more than one million visitors a day, Rice said.

“If you have a package to mail you can go to usps.com,” Rice said. “You can weigh it on your home scale, calculate the postage, buy the postage with your credit card and our letter carrier will pick it up for you for free.”

Thirty percent of the Post Office’s revenue is now coming from usps.com, Rice said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.

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