State

Modesto post offices on consolidation list

With revenues continuing to decline in the face of the ever-rising use of e-mail and online bill-paying serv-ices, the U.S. Postal Service is considering consolidating as many as 1,000 offices nationwide, including two in Modesto.

Postal officials have sent a list of almost 700 offices to the Postal Regulatory Commission to be considered for consolidation. That list includes the Modesto Main (Kearney Avenue) and Paradise offices.

With the El Viejo office on I Street designated as surplus property, the face of Modesto's walk-in post offices could be about to change.

"At this point, because everything's under review, I can't say anything," said Modesto Postmaster Cory Sandobal. "When a decision is made, we'll be having public meetings about it to let people know what is going on and how it will affect them."

The Postal Service is expected to announce its consolidation plan in early October. It is facing a $7 billion loss this year, despite a 2-cent increase in postage rates in May, deep cuts in the number of pickup boxes and some staff cuts.

"We're not closing offices," said Gus Ruiz, spokesman for the Sacramento and Bay Valley postal districts. "We're looking at certain urban areas with various stations that we could consider for consolidation.

"We will take the retail and carrier operations from one station and move them to another to cut costs. If the building is leased, we can save money by not having to pay that lease. If we own the building, we can sell it and earn money that way."

Ruiz acknowledged that Modesto's Main and Paradise offices were on the list of properties to be considered for consolidation, but he said there was no way of knowing whether they would be closed, combined into a single office or even if they would remain on the list.

"It's quite possible they won't stay on the list, because this list is very fluid," Ruiz said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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