Plan to Sort Vermont's Mail in Connecticut Is Suspended | Politics | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Plan to Sort Vermont's Mail in Connecticut Is Suspended


Published May 20, 2024 at 9:46 p.m.

Vermont mail that was routed through Connecticut - ANNE WALLACE ALLEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Anne Wallace Allen ©️ Seven Days
  • Vermont mail that was routed through Connecticut
The U.S. Postal Service has suspended its plan to relocate Vermont's mail sorting to Connecticut — a move that many fear would only worsen delays in a troubled system.

“I am encouraged USPS listened to the concerns we raised from our constituents, and finally paused these misguided facility reviews,” Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said in a prepared statement after the suspension was announced last week.

“I will keep fighting to improve mail delivery in Vermont, which has been terribly deteriorated,” Welch added.
The postal service had proposed reorganizing its mail sorting hubs in Essex Junction and White River Junction. Some local letters mailed in Vermont would have been diverted for sorting in Hartford, Conn., 250 miles south of Burlington. That was part of a complex plan to consolidate hundreds of distribution locations into about 60 large centers around the country.

The Postal Service has been looking to cut costs. It hasn’t been able to cover its expenses for more than 15 years, mostly because of declining demand for first-class mail, its most profitable product.

Long before the consolidation plan was announced, members of Congress were vowing to take action to improve service, particularly in rural areas, where complaints about missing and late mail are legion. Many rural post offices are open only a few hours a day, and they face severe staff shortages that cause unplanned closures.

“It made absolutely no sense to me on many levels, climate change being one of them,” said Joseph Gainza, a Marshfield activist who hosts "Gathering Peace,"
a social justice program on WGDR radio. “If you’re going to be delivering mail down to Hartford and bringing it all the way back up to Vermont by truck, your carbon footprint gets larger.”
The postal service has been hearing a chorus of complaints. Many concern late and missing mail, problems with package delivery, and rising costs. In April, the postal service announced a proposal to raise the price of a first-class Forever stamp from 68 cents to 73 cents, a change that would take effect July 14 if approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The target of complaints is often Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was appointed in June 2020 by the Postal Service’s 11-member Board of Governors, a panel selected by then-president Donald Trump.

In April, Welch and 25 other members of Congress from both sides of the aisle urged DeJoy to reconsider the consolidation plan. Welch also asked President Biden to nominate people to the USPS Board of Governors who would hold DeJoy accountable for the rural delivery problems.

Steve Hutkins, a retired professor who monitors the postal service from his home in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and runs a website called Save the Post Office, said he thinks the 26 lawmakers’ letter influenced DeJoy’s decision to halt the consolidation.

“You could sense momentum building when 26 senators all signed off on a letter asking for a pause,” Hutkins said on Monday. 

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