Residents had until Tuesday to give city officials feedback on what the scale-back of operations at the Cherrybell mail center is looking like in Southern Arizona. And, no, it is not very promising.
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Vice Mayor Richard Fimbres received more than 1,700 testimonials to read from business owners, seniors and others who rely on their mail to arrive at a normal time frame. The responses came from Tucson, Rio Rico, Tubac and other cities in this southern region.
The city leaders noticed there is a major issue with senior residents not getting their medication or Medicare checks quickly; businesses' payrolls and sales services are being disrupted; and nonprofits haven't been able to mail stuff out at discounted rates, according to a press release from the city of Tucson.
"Reducing postal services in our community, one of the fastest growing communities in the state, does not make sense, and it is hurting residents," the release says.
Here are two of the testimonials:
My Dad gets his prescriptions in the mail. There have been a few times he runs out of his medications before the next prescription comes in. My sister gets her disability check in the mail. She used to receive it by the 3rd of each month before. Now it may be the 6th or 7th when she gets her check, and it’s very hard on her. Respondent #1135, age 45-55
As a furniture consignment business, we send out hundreds of checks every month to our consignor partners. We have been in business for almost 20 years. We are dependent on the USPS running efficiently to maintain the good reputation of our business. Catherene Morton, HomeStyle Galleries
The Postal Service announced the consolidation plans in 2011 as an effort to reduce costs for the agency. Some of those changes rolled out in January. The problem is, it resulted in the delay of first-class mail, among other issues. Either way, since 2013, rather than processing mail at Cherrybell, the Postal Service has shipped all outgoing Tucson mail to Phoenix prior to distribution, even if the mail has a Tucson address.
The second phase of the consolidation, which was originally planned for 2015 but has now been delayed until next year, will reduce functions at Cherrybell to limited retail operations and little-to-no mail processing, the city says.
U.S. Reps. Martha McSally and Raúl Grijalva, as well as other local political and business voices, have pushed to keep Cherrybell running, as well. If the Cherrybell plans proceed, an approximate 250 jobs would be lost and overnight delivery to Tucson would end.
Rothschild and Fimbres plan to deliver the surveys' results to Arizona's congressional delegation, who will likely be able to share the impacts with the Postal Service's postmaster general, and members of the committees in Congress overseeing the USPS consolidation.
"We are incredibly grateful to the members of the Arizona Congressional delegation who have supported the city’s efforts to keep our postal service system robust and intact," Rothschild says. "It is important that the voices of the citizens of Tucson and Southern Arizona are heard as the Postal Service and Congress makes decisions that will directly impact our lives."