Survey seeks to gauge Postal Service problems

15 hours ago  •  

Tucson Vice Mayor Richard Fimbres and a coalition of community leaders launched a bilingual survey to hear about Southern Arizonans’ experience with the U.S. Postal Service.

The survey launched as Fimbres, community and business leaders, state legislators and Southern Arizona’s representatives in Congress combined forces to try to halt the Tucson Cherrybell postal station’s consolidation to Phoenix.

“We had plenty of folks come in and they wanted to find out, ‘How is the pullback from the Postal Service hurting us now?’” Fimbres said in an interview Monday.

The second phase of the mail-processing consolidation, which is part of the federal agency’s cost-cutting measure, is scheduled for July 11. The first part, which moved the processing of outgoing mail from Tucson to Phoenix, took place in February 2013.

The consolidation timing of some portions of the second phase are “to be determined,” according to Peter Hass, a Postal Service spokesman in the region.

In July, the processing of packages coming to and from Tucson and letters arriving in Tucson will be consolidated, he said.

As part of the consolidation process, a service standard change went into effect Jan. 5, which resulted in a one- to two-day delivery in first-class mail delivery.

Once the consolidation is complete the only function left at the Cherrybell station will be retail services and P.O. boxes.

The cost-cutting measure, dubbed “Network Rationalization,” would address the changing mail habits of Americans and adapt to the decline in first-class mail, according to the Postal Service.

Critics of the nationwide effort to consolidate more than 80 facilities argue that while first-class mail has declined, package deliveries have gone up, and that the Postal Service could address its fiscal deficiencies by changing its pension system.

The new survey has two versions — one for business owners and the other for community members. The business version is available in English and Spanish. Southern Arizonans have until May 30 to complete the survey.

The findings would be passed on to U.S. Rep. Martha McSally and other congressional delegations to be presented to U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan, according to Fimbres. The ultimate goal is to have a moratorium issued against Tucson’s consolidation, he said.

There are horror stories out there about mail delays but presenting real examples would make the “strongest case as a community to the Postal Service,” said Robert Medler, vice president of government affairs at the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce.

“We hope that having large volumes of qualitative data will help make the argument with the postal service stronger,” he said.

The agency’s decision to close the Tucson center processing duties was based on old data, and a re-evaluation is necessary, said Medler, who was involved in crafting the survey.

The questions were developed to make sure that the findings “get to the heart of the issues people are facing with the changes in the USPS,” he said.