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Mail delivery in South County undergoing change

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Part of the continuing consolidation pattern aimed at cutting costs, another change in U.S. Postal Service mail delivery in South Hillsborough is set for next week.

The “backend” alteration should be barely noticeable to most customers, local USPS authorities say, and the ongoing South County consolidation does not include closure of any of the region’s eight post offices.

The changes, though, do forecast creation of two primary mail delivery “hubs” to serve all of the South County’s communities from the Alafia River to the Hillsborough-Manatee County line.

Beginning Thursday, September 30, carrier mail delivery to Gibsonton will originate at the Riverview Post Office, on Boyette Road immediately east of U.S. 301, according to Gary Sawtelle, USPS spokesman in Tampa. The change affects a total of 4,262 Gibsonton deliveries, he added.
Melody Jameson photo
Sun City Center’s post office has been designated one of two mail distribution hubs for South Hillsborough County.

This consolidation also establishes the Riverview facility as one of the two South County hubs from which all mail routes eventually will be run, Sawtelle indicated.

The second designated hub is the Sun City Center post office. Not only does mail delivery throughout the retirement community begin at the facility just west of the SCC Plaza , but all carrier deliveries to Apollo Beach, Ruskin and Sun City south of the Little Manatee River have been operating from the larger station for some time, Sawtelle said.

And, in the “near future,” all of the greater Wimauma routes, including those serving Balm to the northeast and Sundance to the south, also will originate in Sun City Center, rounding its role as the second hub, he added.

However, none of the changes should seriously impact postal customers receiving mail by route delivery. “These are backend functions” not obvious at the front or retail postal service end, Sawtelle emphasized. Asked if the timing of route mail delivery could be affected since carriers in some cases will be traveling greater distances from mail pick-up points to their specific routes, the spokesman acknowledged “there will be some changes in the delivery times, but we expect that those will be minimal.”

The consolidation of delivery services is designed to cut back on the transportation costs involved in getting mail in bulk to the various post offices, including those from which carrier deliveries then spread out across the several separate communities. Ultimately, the new system envisions that all South County mail can be unloaded in bulk at just the two hubs, Sawtelle said.

The Riverview and Sun City Center post offices were pinpointed as hubs because of their locations and sizes, the spokesman noted, indicating that the facilities more easily can accommodate the increased activities of more mail processing along with the more numerous carrier arrivals and departures.

As the new carrier route details are being worked out, though, retail activities at the South County’s various post offices continue unaffected, Sawtelle asserted. All of the services normally expected by post office customers at their local stations – from stamp purchases to certified mail management to package handling including such purchase options as packaging materials and stamp collector accessories – remain available.

In addition, there are no plans to close any South County stations, Sawtelle emphasized. The existing post offices – Apollo Beach, Balm, Gibsonton, Riverview, Ruskin, Sun City, Sun City Center and Wimauma – all are expected to continue operations as usual. And customers receiving mail via route delivery who might receive a notice of package pick-up will continue to get that service at their local post office, Sawtelle noted.

The cost cutting consolidation is the direct result of a couple of major factors; one of them a radical drop in mail volume, Sawtelle pointed out. The U.S. Postal Service and its post offices are supposed to be supported by the rate payers, the customers who pay for services, the spokesman said. Since 2006, he added, the number of pieces of mail going through the system has dropped by 30 billion, thereby resulting in a marked loss in revenues. Yet, he concluded, the postal service fixed costs have not decreased and demands for delivery have increased, leading to such actions as postage increases and blending of services.

Copyright 2010 Melody Jameson
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