U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are asking the United States Postal Service (USPS) to consider Arizona’s population growth before consolidating any postal facilities in the state.

The Senators specifically mentioned the need to better assess the value of Cherrybell Processing & Distribution Center in Tucson, which provides key services to seniors and small businesses but has been targeted for consolidation or closure by USPS since 2011. While she was a congresswoman for Southern Arizona, McSally successfully protected the Cherrybell Post Office from closure.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, the Senators emphasized the value of USPS postal facilities and expressed support for working with the Administration to address the financial difficulties faced by USPS because of COVID-19.

 “USPS plays an important role in Arizona. Our seniors, veterans, and rural communities depend on USPS to deliver everything from medications to retirement checks and bill payments," the Senators wrote. “The continuation of these services during the COVID-19 pandemic ensures the most vulnerable individuals can stay at home and minimize their risk of contracting the virus. Prompt delivery of packages allows individuals to help care for elderly loved ones while maintaining social distancing, and businesses large and small to participate in the national economy.”

“Arizona’s significant population growth over the past decade remains consistent, and our state has a projected growth rate of 17 percent by 2030. Before USPS considers closing Cherrybell again or modifying any aspect of its present operations, or doing the same at other processing facilities across the nation, it should take into consideration the updated circumstances of the community and its postal needs. Any additional effort to assist the USPS’ recovery from COVID-19 challenges should include requirements to justify future processing plant consolidations or closures with a new Area Mail Processing (AMP) analysis with an expanded set of criteria. These criteria should include consideration of the population growth and projections for the region, the local economy and its mail service needs, postal service standards in place, and service performance in the region.”

Read full letter here and below:

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Postmaster General DeJoy,

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is a critical lifeline that connects our nation and especially our rural communities. As you know, USPS is currently suffering additional financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress and the Administration need to work together to ensure USPS’s financial stability and future operations. We must also work to safeguard service standards and reliability in our communities if USPS again looks to consolidate or close any mail processing facilities.

USPS plays an important role in Arizona. Our seniors, veterans, and rural communities depend on USPS to deliver everything from medications to retirement checks and bill payments. The continuation of these services during the COVID-19 pandemic ensures the most vulnerable individuals can stay at home and minimize their risk of contracting the virus. Prompt delivery of packages allows individuals to help care for elderly loved ones while maintaining social distancing, and businesses large and small to participate in the national economy.

A critical part of the USPS network in Arizona is the Cherrybell Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC) in Tucson. The P&DC serves communities throughout southern Arizona and its operations impact mail delivery across the region. Since 2011, USPS has targeted the P&DC for consolidation or closure based on a flawed decision-making process. This decision was made with inadequate criteria and consideration of population growth trends. More concerning is that the Postal Service did not fully engage Arizona communities regarding the impacts of these changes, and the USPS Office of Inspector General found that portions of the Area Mail Processing (AMP) feasibility studies were incomplete for Phase 2 of the Network Rationalization Initiatives. Thorough consultation with the community and analysis of economic and population growth data would demonstrate the importance of Cherrybell for delivering medical prescriptions, checks for workers, and products for small businesses. We remain pleased the consolidation plan was put on hold. 

Arizona’s significant population growth over the past decade remains consistent, and our state has a projected growth rate of 17 percent by 2030. Before USPS considers closing Cherrybell again or modifying any aspect of its present operations, or doing the same at other processing facilities across the nation, it should take into consideration the updated circumstances of the community and its postal needs. Any additional effort to assist the USPS’ recovery from COVID-19 challenges should include requirements to justify future processing plant consolidations or closures with a new Area Mail Processing (AMP) analysis with an expanded set of criteria. These criteria should include consideration of the population growth and projections for the region, the local economy and its mail service needs, postal service standards in place, and service performance in the region.

We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional difficulties for USPS and support exploring how Congress and the Administration can address them. Ensuring that USPS makes wise decisions regarding service and service performance is a critical part of that effort and should be included in any postal reform effort.

We thank you for your attention to this request.

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