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Baucus, Tester Blast Latest Post Office Plan

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The US Postal Service released its latest restructuring plan this week, bringing both good news and bad news to Montana. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester don’t agree with the USPS ideas.

The mail processing facilities in Butte, Helena and Wolf Point would stay open, but the Kalispell processing center would be closed…as early as this summer.

Baucus accused the Postal Service of ignoring his provisions in the Postal Reform legislation that has passed the Senate. A provision in the Postal Reform Bill would prevent closure of any postal facility before Nov 13 in a state that conducts elections by mail or permits no-excuse absentee balloting, as Montana does.

Additionally, Baucus and Tester said the bill would provide financial relief to the USPS without shutting down or reducing service in rural areas. That bill is now in the House of Representatives.

The Postal Service would like to consolidate the Kalispell facility with Missoula no later than the beginning of next year. Both Tester and Baucus said they would fight that plan, which includes 48 consolidations around the country and would require post office closings in 140 other areas. That is Phase One. If nothing changes for the Postal Service finances, then in 2014, another 89 centers would close, and that would put Butte, Helena and Wolf Point processing centers back in the “dead letter file.”

The Postal Service has also discussed closing or having reduced hours for Bitterroot Valley Post Offices in Sula and Conner.

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