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The Nevada Independent

Nevada reps oppose plan to move key postal operations from Reno to Sacramento

The bipartisan group sent a letter outlining “serious concerns” about the plan’s impact on jobs, the economy and mail ballot-heavy elections.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
CongressNorthern Nevada

Nevada’s two Democratic senators and lone Republican member of Congress have joined the chorus of opposition to the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) plans to move its Reno mail processing operations to Sacramento, The Nevada Independent has learned.

Under the proposal, the Reno facility — which is the hub for Northern Nevada mail — would no longer be responsible for processing mail and would instead become a center that would prepare already-processed mail for delivery. This means that if someone from Northern Nevada sends something in the mail, it would first go to Sacramento before reaching its destination.

The USPS said there would be no staff layoffs from the change — which the congressional delegation appeared suspicious of — and said the move would be advantageous because much of the mail processed at the Reno facility is destined for outside the state.

Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto and Rep. Mark Amodei, who represents Northern Nevada, wrote a letter Wednesday to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over their “serious concerns” about the proposal and requested a briefing and more information on the impact on mail service reliability, mail-in ballots, the region’s economy and postal service jobs by March 15.

Rod Spurgeon, a USPS spokesperson, said the agency would respond directly to the members of Congress. He added that local mail would continue to be processed and delivered within two days, the agency’s standard.

The letter is the latest in the mounting public opposition to the move. Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar also sent a letter Wednesday opposing the move, the Washoe County Commission unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday opposing the proposal and Sam Brown, the GOP front-runner to challenge Rosen, called on supporters to oppose the move because of its potential effects on mail-in ballots. 

A spokesperson for Gov. Joe Lombardo said the governor’s office is “concerned” about the proposal’s implications and encouraged affected state agencies to voice their concerns with USPS.

The USPS announced in January that it would be conducting a review of the potential move, and a month later concluded that “the business case supports transferring mail processing outgoing operations” from Reno to Sacramento because of the amount of mail destined for out-of-state that the facility receives. The agency also said that the move would save up to $4.2 million annually, and the Reno facility would be equipped with new equipment to improve delivery services.

Rosen, Cortez Masto and Amodei wrote in their letter that the review was insufficient and that they were “frustrated by the lack of transparency from USPS.” They asked for USPS to provide any assessments conducted on the impact of downsizing the Reno facility on the region and the impacts of the region’s weather on service. The drive from Sacramento to Reno crosses over the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which often receives heavy snow.

“USPS does not provide information about the study on which it relied to reach this determination, nor does it provide any analysis on local impacts of moving mail processing completely outside of the State of Nevada,” the letter said.

Those opposed to the decision are concerned about the impact the move could have on mail-in ballots being processed on time because the ballots would be sent to Sacramento before being counted in Nevada. Nevada law only allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if they are received within four days of Election Day.

Aguilar, the state’s top elections official, said in his letter that based on his conversations with USPS, ballots mailed on Election Day may not be postmarked until later, in essence voiding those votes. He also said the move would present hurdles for investigating potential mail ballot irregularities.

“This has the potential to disenfranchise thousands of Nevada voters and would unquestionably impact the results of Nevada’s elections,” Aguilar’s letter read. “Elections are a matter of complete state responsibility and your proposed action would remove the opportunity for us to manage our elections.”

Cari-Ann Burgess, the interim registrar for Washoe County, told the Reno Gazette-Journal last week that she would discourage voters from mailing their ballots if the plan becomes final.

"It's going to be terrible on our elections," she said. “I wouldn't even put it in the mail … I would drop it off at one of our vote centers.”

The congressional delegation’s letter asked for USPS to provide any analysis on the move’s impact on mail-in ballots.

Spurgeon, the USPS spokesperson, said in an email that the process to determine whether a move would be beneficial would have no impact on election mail. He told the Gazette-Journal that voters should submit mail-in ballots one week before the deadline.

Although the USPS said there would be no layoffs, the agency said there would be an estimated net decrease of 11 craft and one management positions, and employee reassignments will be made in accordance with collective bargaining agreements.

The congressional delegation asked for employment data on the Reno facility and an explanation of how USPS assessed the proposal’s impact on jobs.

“While USPS states that ‘there will be no career employee layoffs,’ it neither provides data on how it reached this conclusion, nor does it make any mention of prospective job losses for pre-career employees, who are those who have worked for USPS for under two years,” the letter said. “It is hard to imagine how a facility downsizing would not result in community job loss or employee relocations outside of the state to Sacramento.”

Wednesday’s letter also said the move could especially affect veterans — who receive most of their medication through the mail — and people in rural areas.

“The proposed downsizing could severely impede on-time mail service in Northern Nevada, which is essential for those who rely on the Postal Service to receive their medication, Social Security checks, notes from loved ones, and much more,” the letter said.

The public comment period for the proposal ended Wednesday.

This story was updated on 2/29/24 at 9:45 a.m. to include the letter from Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar.


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