The president of the Southern Oregon postal workers union is asking the public to denounce the Postal Service's plan to consolidate the Medford and Central Point post offices.

The president of the Southern Oregon postal workers union is asking the public to denounce the Postal Service's plan to consolidate the Medford and Central Point post offices.

Jim Alexander, the president of the Southern Oregon Area Postal Workers Union, argued Saturday that closing one of the county's two largest post offices could end up costing taxpayers more and hampering the timely delivery of their mail. "We want to mobilize and call public meetings to answer the public's questions," Alexander said. "The public needs to know what's going on."

By year end, the Postal Service wants to identify ways to cut costs, possibly by selling or relocating the Medford or Central Point post offices. In addition, the agency could reduce the square footage at either site and lease space from new owners.

Postal Service officials based in Phoenix, Ariz., told the Mail Tribune the move is necessary to close a $3.8 billion shortfall, posted at the end of the last fiscal year.

Alexander doubts the agency will make money by selling the offices it owns in Medford and Central Point in the current economic climate. "It would be difficult to make any money by selling those buildings in today's economic climate," Alexander said.

Should the Postal Service sell the buildings, the costs of leasing property from new owners can be a losing proposition, Alexander said.

According to Alexander, the rent for the mail facility on Biddle Road near Sizzler costs around $37,000 per month. "I just don't see how it could save money to sell something you already own to rent property at these prices," Alexander said.

He proposes moving the Biddle Road complex to the post office next to Medford City Hall.

"We only use about 50 percent of the floor space in our downtown (Medford) office," Alexander said. "There is room to move the Biddle Road operation there."

The Postal Service said 3,300 post offices were listed for possible consolidation or reduction in available services last year.

Alexander disputes that number, saying that the number has been lowered to around 200 because communities banded together to oppose post office closures.

"The union's goal in the upcoming months is to educate the public about what consolidation could mean," Alexander said.

To achieve this, the union plans to host a series of town hall meetings in which the public and local politicians are welcome to ask questions.

Medford City Councilman Bob Strosser said he hopes neither post office will be closed. He worries traffic will increase with people driving to another town to use the post office, he said.

There is no fear among union representatives that local postal jobs could be lost if one of the offices was to close.

"The problem would be our carriers would have to drive longer distances to pick up and drop off mail on their routes," Alexander said. "And it would force some workers into a longer commute to work every day."

Anyone who wants to comment on the possible consolidation of the Central Point and Medford post offices can send a letter to: Consumer Affairs, U.S. Postal Service, P.O. Box 4759, Portland, OR 97208-4759.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.