Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hail, Mail!

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Hail, Mail!

Article excerpt

Keeping the processing center local

Hold the sympathy cards. Instead, you might want to send congratulations to a host of public officials in Manatee County and Washington on the last-minute rescue of the local mail distribution center.

Thanks to their 18-month effort, some 300 local, good-paying jobs will remain in our community -- while handling and delivery of local mail might be a little bit quicker than expected.

The Postal Service's Manasota Processing and Distribution Center, near Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, had been scheduled to close this week and have its operations shifted to Fort Myers.

That questionable decision -- following a lengthy roller-coaster ride of conflicting studies and financial estimates -- was put on hold Sunday when the Postal Service announced that the center will remain open.

The cash-strapped service had previously estimated that the consolidation of the Manasota and Fort Myers centers would save $9.5 million, but those purported savings were called into question by the postal workers union, Manatee County officials and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

For one thing, the estimate followed an "Area Mail Processing" study by the Postal Service, released in November 2011, that projected a $15.8 million annual savings if mail processing were shifted from Fort Myers to the Manasota center and one in Tampa.

What's more, in October 2011, a Postal Service district manager told the Herald-Tribune that the agency had conducted "a careful review" of the local center's operations and determined that "there will be no significant changes made at this time."

Logistical challenge

The closing of the Manasota center posed a logistical challenge - - trucking local mail first to Tampa, then 140 miles south to Fort Myers to be processed, then back to Sarasota and Manatee counties -- that could have significantly delayed delivery. …

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