Tester questions Butte, Helena Postal Service changes

Montana Standard

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said a controversial proposal to shut down mail processing centers in Butte and Helena "doesn't smell right" and is asking the U.S. Postal Service to listen to Montana customers rather than ignore them.

In a press release to The Montana Standard Wednesday, Tester wrote U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe about his "deep concerns" over the lack of transparency and "no assurances the plan actually saves money."

Under the proposal, if someone in Butte sends a letter across town via U.S. mail, that letter will have to be trucked 300 miles to Great Falls and back before it's delivered in Butte.

It could affect seven jobs in Butte.

"This adds significant fuel costs and adds precious time to what Montanans expect to be a simple cross-town delivery," Tester wrote.

Tester also said he's concerned about the cost of new machinery to handle additional mail volume in Great Falls, the overall loss of jobs, and the timely delivery of mail in smaller communities across southwestern Montana.

"I count myself among many Montanans who are frustrated by this proposal apparently moving forward with little or no input from Montana ratepayers," Tester wrote. "I hope you will take these considerations-as well as the concerns of Montanans-into account well before making any final decisions."

Tester also included several questions for Donahoe, saying, "Montanans deserve and expect to understand exactly how this move will affect them should this proposal move forward."

Tester serves on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which oversees the U.S. Postal Service.