Mail to administrators, staff and students living on campus may be delayed as a result of the closing of mail processing centers around Central Texas.
The U.S. Postal Service will be consolidating its mail processing operations in Waco, Abilene, Bryan and Palestine into the Austin processing plant at 8225 Cross Park Dr. This will cause the plant to process 40 percent more mail than in previous years, said Barbara Pokorny, spokesman for the Austin processing facility.
The consolidation is part of a nationwide set of cost-cutting programs the Postal Service has initiated to respond to the declining use of traditional mail, causing a large deficit in spending, said Sam Bolen, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service Rio Grande District.
Changes in the economy have also forced the Postal Service to shut down more than 250 processing centers around the country and lay off 30,000 workers. Due to the growth of electronic commerce, the Postal Service does not expect the jobs to return when the economy improves, Bolen said.
“We rely solely on the revenue generated by our services to fund our operations, and over the last eight years there’s been a 25 percent decline in first class mail volume,” Bolen said. “We have a decline in revenue, and now we have more facilities than we need to handle the declining volume of mail.”
The Postal Service also announced last week that its First Class Mail service would no longer deliver letters in less than a day. As a result, all letters, envelopes, fliers and magazines will take two to three days for delivery in Austin and the surrounding area. This change will not affect packages, Bolen said.
UT traffics over 8 million parcels of mail a year to administrators alone, and would feel the effect of this consolidation, said UT Mail Services manager James Guza. Since most of these letters are business transactions, checks and receipts, they could frustrate operations at the University.
“We are still going over it with the Post Office as far as deliveries, but we know it will slow delivery times,” Guza said. “It’s backed up over the years with the closing of processing plants and it may change what time we get the mail out the door and into the office.”
The consolidation may also put pressure on staff delivering mail to students, but students may not have to suffer longer delivery times, said Dawn Davis, administrative associate for the Division of Housing and Food Services.
“For the most part, our students are accustomed to mail taking about three to five business days,” Davis said. “The challenge could come with our residence hall mail centers feeling a new sense of urgency, but things around campus are always going to be changing and we always welcome the challenge.”