Beaufort, Jasper County mail now processed in Charleston post office

bheffernan@islandpacket.comFebruary 13, 2013 

Mail from Beaufort County will now be sorted in Charleston rather than Savannah processing center which was recently closed as a cost-saving measure by the U.S. Postal Service.

STAFF PHOTO

Letters and packages entering and exiting Beaufort County mailboxes are taking different routes to their destinations this week after a U.S. Postal Service processing center in Savannah closed.

Mail entering and departing zip codes starting with "299" -- including Beaufort and Jasper counties -- will now be processed in Charleston.

The change will not affect delivery times or costs, according to Stephen Seewoester, a regional Postal Service spokesman.

The only difference residents are likely to see is "CHARLESTON SC" printed on envelopes mailed from within the area, instead of "SAVANNAH GA."

However, the tweak is representative of wider changes within the Postal Service.

The agency will close 140 processing centers throughout the country this month and another 89 next year to save about $1.2 billion annually. The consolidations will reduce the Postal Service workforce by 13,000.

Seewoester said there were no layoffs at the Savannah center and that the center's 133 employees either retired or took other jobs with the Postal Service.

The Postal Service might do more than just close processing centers to improve its finances.

On Wednesday, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe asked the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee for permission to cut Saturday mail delivery, but lawmakers and postal-worker unions are questioning the legality of the change.

The plan, proposed to begin in August, could save as much as $7 billion by 2016. The agency lost $15.9 billion last fiscal year.

The agency said it would deliver only packages on Saturday and that post offices would be open to sell stamps and other materials.

According to a new CBS News poll, 71 percent of Americans said they favored ending mail delivery on Saturdays to solve the post office's financial problems, and 24 percent said they opposed it. Even among respondents who said they used the Postal Service often, about 6 in 10 favored ending Saturday delivery.

The CBS News telephone poll was conducted nationally from Feb. 6 through Feb. 10 among 1,148 adults and had a sampling error of 3 percentage points.

The McClatchy News Service contributed to this report.

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