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Buchanan calls for review of plan to cut local postal jobs

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is asking congressional auditors to review the U.S. Postal Service's plan to cut 59 jobs at the Manasota Processing and Distribution Center near Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and to transfer all outgoing mail to a facility in Tampa.

"I am asking the (General Accounting Office) to conduct an independent review of the USPS's Manasota consolidation plans," Buchanan, R-Sarasota, wrote in a letter dated Thursday. "This would help ensure that no postal workers will unnecessarily lose their jobs or be relocated, that there will be no reduction in service, and that the promised savings are realistic and attainable."

The Postal Service announced March 31 that it would be shifting outgoing mail processing from the facility on Tallevast Road to Tampa, affecting 59 jobs.

"This consolidation will contribute toward the Postal Service’s goal of increasing efficiency and improving productivity," Suncoast District Manager David Patterson said in a statement last month. "The move makes sense. Optimizing our processing network like this will help the Postal Service keep the cost of postage affordable for all Americans.”

The transition is set to start Oct. 1, and be completed by April 1, 2010.

The move was opposed by the postal union and local elected officials, including Buchanan.

In his letter Thursday, Buchanan said he had several concerns about how the Postal Service reached its decision. They include that the Postal Service held only one public hearing, in Sarasota, even though the affected area covers three counties; the Postal Service has "refused to share any data to support their claims that the consolidating would save money and improve service;" and that the Postal Service did not consider consolidating operations at the Tallevast facility, which it owns. (The Postal Service leases its facility in Tampa.)

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