Kalispell Mail-Processing Center to Remain Open, For Now

By Beacon Staff

The U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday that mail-processing centers in Kalispell and Missoula will remain open, while those in Wolf Point, Helena and Butte will be shuttered. The decision was the result of a five-month study that looked at ways to cut costs at the government agency, which has been losing money partially due to declining mail over the last decade.

While the Kalispell facility will remain open for now, it could still be consolidated with the processing center in Missoula. Another study looking into that option will come at a later date, according to a press release from USPS.

Had the postal service decided to close the facilities in Missoula and Kalispell, local mail would have likely been shipped to Spokane, Wash., to be sorted, thus ending overnight parcel service in Northwest Montana. During a public hearing regarding the possible closure in December, local residents criticized the plan.

Kalispell was one of 252 facilities across the country under consideration for closure or consolidation because of a 25 percent drop in first class mail since 2006. The Postal Service ended 2011 with $5.1 billion in net losses. USPS’s Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan said in a prepared statement that the cuts being made were necessary.

“The decision to consolidate mail-processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure,” Brennan said. “Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation.”

Although the fates of facilities in Wolf Point, Helena and Butte have likely been sealed, when those processing centers will close is unclear. Late last year, USPS announced it would not close any facility until after May 15, 2012, in hopes that Congress could produce an alternative plan to save the service without making drastic cuts. When those outposts do close, mail processing and distribution in Helena and Butte will be consolidated with the facility in Great Falls and Wolf Point will be combined with Billings.

The USPS said that consolidations would not happen until existing service standards were revised.