Heller: No word on postal closing

RENO — A week before the U.S. Postal Service closes a public comment period on a proposal to shutter a small post office in Sun Valley north of Reno, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller says he still hasn’t received the explanation he has requested to justify the move.

Postal Service officials are promising to give Heller the information before the Sunday deadline for comment on the proposal. They say the plan will save more than $500,000 over 10 years.

But the officials said they don’t understand why the remaining 200 customers with post office boxes at Sun Valley won’t accept the home delivery available to those who don’t want to drive 5 miles to Sparks where boxes would be transferred.

Heller, R-Nev., told U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a letter last week he was “disappointed in the lack of notification” provided before the agency opened the 60-day comment period at the end of July. He said he hadn’t heard anything new about the push to consolidate the postal station, which is staffed by one person, and the Sparks location since USPS announced in October 2011 that it was considering the closure.

“My office has still not received information from your agency regarding the criteria USPS used to select the Sparks-Sun Valley Station as a site for potential consideration,” Heller wrote. “Any consideration for closure must fairly take into account the negative impacts on consumers and businesses.”

Susan Severt, a board member of the Sun Valley General Improvement District, doesn’t believe USPS would save money because the lone employee would be relocated to another facility.

“Which means that the $509,575 in labor costs that they use to justify the closing of the Sun Valley branch would just transfer within the budget,” she said in a letter last month to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “Shouldn’t the U.S. Postal Service be working to provide better customer service and attract more customers instead of disenfranchising the very people who they need to save the postal service.”

Severt is also worried residents will have to change their address and ZIP code, but postal service officials insist that is not the case.

“It’s a very small office and the only people directly impacted are about 200 post office box holders, down from 380 just three years ago,” USPS spokesman David Rupert said on Friday. “And all of those people can get street delivery.”

Rupert said the box holders will still be Sun Valley.

“None of those people are going to have to change a thing. Their community doesn’t change. They will still be called Sun Valley,” he said.

Once the service makes a final determination, residents will have 30 days to appeal, which would open up a new 120-day comment period.