Ohio’s two Senators and two northwestern-most members of its House delegation asked Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe on Monday to delay closing the Toledo-mail processing and distribution center.
In a bipartisan, bicameral letter, Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) and Sens. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and Rob Portman (R. Ohio) raised concerns that the impending facilities consolidation, under which most work now done in Toledo would be transferred to Pontiac, Mich., will cause delays in mail delivery and not produce projected savings.
The congressmen wrote the letter based on the inspector general’s audit of the U.S. Postal Service’s 2010 elimination of its Lima processing facility.
They noted that concerns appear to be justified after Lima’s operations were transferred out. An inspector general audit requested by Senator Brown reported a 136 percent increase in delayed mail and missed service commitments.
They requested that the postmaster delay transferring processes from the Toledo facility until the inspector general can proactively audit the facility and provide the postal service with all relevant information.
A 2011 audit by the Postal Service’s inspector general acknowledged a “valid business case” had been made for the consolidation, but slammed the Lima transfer’s implementation, noting that “service degradation” continued after the audit’s completion.
Although he declined to comment on the letter, David Van Allen, a regional spokesman for the Postal Service, said that although the Lima transition was not perfect, the post office has completed 200 transfers since Lima, and all have gone smoothly.
“The [Lima] transition did not initially go as smoothly as the post office would have liked, but that was years ago,” he said.
Steve Fought, Miss Kaptur’s communications director, said Miss Kaptur is “absolutely convinced” that the Toledo processing center is a viable operation that is efficient, centrally located, and has access to multi-modal transportation — air, rail, water, and trucks.
The congressmen were particularly concerned that the postmaster wait to review and collect all pertinent information and facts. Mr. Fought said the facility’s closing will affect unions, management, and the business community.
But Mr. Van Allen said no one has been, or will be, laid off. He said the work formerly done in Lima will shift from Toledo to Columbus on Monday and one day later, the Toledo facility will begin to incrementally transfer its processes to Pontiac, north of Detroit. He described both Columbus and Pontiac as “state-of-the art” facilities.
Last week, the Office of the Inspector General notified Miss Kaptur and Senator Brown that it would follow through with their May 31 request to audit a 2012 study that recommended closing the Toledo facility. After they were notified, the two Democrats asked Senator Portman and Mr. Latta to join their request to the postmaster general.
If the postmaster general does not delay consolidation plans, the Toledo plant is expected to close next year.
But Mr. Fought said Miss Kaptur believes the postmaster general will see the Toledo operation’s value with the right data.
“It almost defies logic to close the center,” he said.
Contact Danielle Trubow at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6129, or on Twitter @danielletrubow.