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Major savings seen in merging

Nearly $29 million a year would be saved by merging the mail processing and distribution center on William Street into a similar facility in Rochester, a U.S. Postal Service feasibility study has found.

An estimated 212 jobs would be lost in the merger, according to a summary of the feasibility study, which is still under review at Postal Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., and at its Eastern Area offices in Pittsburgh.

"It's a proposal. It's not a done deal," said Postal Service spokeswoman Karen L. Mazurkiewicz.

The Postal Service, which first proposed the consolidation in September as part of a nationwide plan to save $3 billion and maintain its solvency, will hold a public meeting Jan. 4 to share results of the feasibility study and answer questions.

Western New York District Manager Kathleen Burns and operations staff from the district are expected to be on hand for the hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. in John F. Kennedy High School, 305 Cayuga Creek Road, Cheektowaga.

The consolidation would move hundreds of jobs from the William Street facility to a processing and distribution center in Rochester. The Postal Service also expects to eliminate 168 jobs and save $11.8 million per year.

Another 44 supervisory and management positions also would be trimmed, netting an annual savings of $3.9 million.

Further savings of about $12 million would come from decreased maintenance and transportation costs, the Postal Service estimated.

The William Street facility, where about 700 people currently are employed, is one of 252 processing centers and 3,700 post offices around the country targeted for closure as part of the cash-strapped agency's efforts to stave off bankruptcy.

Postal Service officials have said the Rochester processing facility was selected to stay open because it has upgraded equipment and is a more central location for the Western New York region that stretches as far east as Elmira.

If the consolidation goes through, most first-class mail in the Western New York District would arrive at homes and businesses in two to three days, as opposed to the current standard of one to three days.

The consolidation would not immediately change retail services at the William Street site, and a local postmark would still be available for stamped first-class mail.

However, pickup times at area collection boxes may change, and changes also will be in store for mail that is shipped to the Buffalo destination sectional center facility. Details of those changes were not made available in the Postal Service's summary of the feasibility study.

The Postal Service announced earlier this month it will delay closing any of its facilities until May 15.

But that announcement hasn't changed any of the Postal Service's current planning efforts, including the study of a merged Buffalo and Rochester processing and distribution center.

In addition to the public hearing, the Postal Service will take written comments by Jan. 20 at Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact, Western District, 1200 William St., Buffalo, NY 14240.