By Daniel C. Houston
The U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday it intends to close its Waco processing and distribution center as part of a broader effort to answer the declining consumer demand for first-class mail.
Waco’s mail-processing operations will move to a distribution center in Austin pending congressional approval to lengthen the delivery period for first-class mail to two to three days, according to Waco Postmaster David Sanderson.
The Postal Service would not consolidate the two facilities until May 15 at the earliest.
“We have to do something to stay in business in order to continue to serve our customers and provide mail coverage, which is important to the United States,” Sanderson said. “By consolidating in this way, we are able to stay in business and not become a burden on the taxpayers, because currently we do not receive any tax dollars and are self-supporting.”
The Postal Service projects closing the Waco facility would result in annual savings of $7.6 million. Although Sanderson said the closing would reduce personnel costs, all 200 full-time employees at the distribution center would remain employed with the Postal Service in various capacities.
“Unless they choose to retire or choose to do something different, our contracts require us to do something else with them,” Sanderson said. “Some of them may go to Austin to work there, some of them may go to delivering mail, and that kind of thing.”
Sanderson said the facility personnel would be able to fill roles that are currently performed by other staff working overtime, leading to an overall decrease in personnel costs. He said they would also save money in operating costs if the facility closes.
All retail post office locations in Waco — including the Baylor mail center in the Bill Daniel Student Center — will remain in operation. Teresa Mosley, director of mail services at Baylor, said she does not anticipate any significant inconveniences if the distribution center closes.
“From what we’ve been told,” Mosley said, “it’s not going to affect the pick-up times, and it should not affect the delivery here on campus.”
If the Waco facility closes, Mosley said, students should submit mail to the center sooner, since the Postal Service would likely take longer to process the mail from Austin.
The Postal Service has not yet informed Mosley how or where the Baylor mail center would pick up the mail in the morning if the Austin distribution center takes over the responsibility.
Currently, Baylor staff drive to the Waco distribution center in the morning and return with the mail. Mosley said it is not yet clear whether the Austin location would bring the mail to Waco or where it would be picked up.
First-class mail volume has decreased by 25 percent since 2006, according to the Postal Service.
In total, the service plans to consolidate 223 mail processing plants across the country, which it estimates will allow savings of $2.1 billion.