The Postal Service has announced plans to move its mail processing operations from Yakima to Pasco, but the future of Pasco's facility still remains uncertain.
Yakima's move -- which is expected to save nearly $1.2 million -- could eliminate as many as 19 jobs, move up local pickup times by an hour and change the postmark from Yakima to Pasco on most outgoing mail.
According to postal officials, the move is expected to be completed by July. Some employees may be reassigned to other vacant positions as a result of the move.
"Given the drastic 20 percent decline in mail volume the Postal Service has experienced since 2007, we must take action to reduce the size of our mailprocessing network," Seattle District Manager Yul Melonson said in a news release.
"I understand our employees' concern over this move," Melonson added, "but the consolidation makes sense given the fiscal realities. The Pasco Mail Processing Facility has the capacity to handle the additional workload and we can realize significant savings by shifting operations there."
In September, officials announced that they were looking into closing Pasco's mail processing center and sending all Tri-City mail to be sorted in Spokane.
The decision to sort Yakima's mail in Pasco doesn't take Pasco off the chopping block, said Ernie Swanson, postal service spokesman in Seattle.
The study, which began in September, is still continuing, and if it's decided that Pasco's center will move to Spokane, then Yakima's mail also will move to Spokane, Swanson told the Herald on Tuesday.
"The plan to move Yakima mail processing to Pasco won't happen until next July, so there's still plenty of time in which to come to a determination about the Pasco processing situation," he said.
There's no timeline for when the study about Pasco's center will be completed, but it took about six months to get a decision about Yakima's facility. Yakima's study began in April.
Swanson said postal officials are expected to set up a public meeting in Pasco by the end of this month or early December to present information about the possible move to Spokane, how it will be handled and take questions and comments.
The public input at that meeting will be part of the overall study, along with written comments that can be submitted for 15 days after the meeting. No decision is expected to be made until after the new year.
Melonson said moving Yakima's mail processing center to Pasco won't cause any changes in local mail delivery. Letters mailed to local addresses will be delivered the next day, the same as before.
"I am confident the transition will be smooth and transparent to our customers and they will continue to receive the same excellent service they always have," Melonson said.
Full retail services will still be available at Yakima's main post office on Washington Avenue.