Central Point and Medford each will continue to be home to a post office after the U.S. Postal Service wraps up a review of its system next year, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Central Point and Medford each will continue to be home to a post office after the U.S. Postal Service wraps up a review of its system next year, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The organization does not intend to eliminate post offices in either Southern Oregon town as part of a cost-cutting process, said Peter Hass, a regional spokesman for the Postal Service in Arizona. Instead, he said, it hopes to determine whether the organization should sell either its Central Point building at 625 E. Pine St. or the Medford building at 338 W. Eighth St.

If either were sold, he said, a post office would open in a different space in the community, or the organization might lease space in the building it sold. "Since we own them, we can potentially sell them," he said, "and that's what's being looked into."

The Postal Service is in the midst of a nationwide effort to reduce costs after it lost $3.8 billion in its most recent fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, and $7.8 billion in the previous two years.

It is considering closing almost 200 branches through consolidation, but the local proposal is separate from that process and is not about consolidation, Hass noted.

Hass said Central Point and Medford branches would continue to employ Postal Service employees and would offer customers the usual range of post office services.

"Jobs also should not be a concern," he said. "There's no intent to reduce employment by something like this."

Jim Alexander, president of the Southern Oregon Area Postal Workers Union, said he was "cautiously optimistic" after hearing that retail operations would likely remain in both cities. But he believes the Postal Service would be better off keeping the two properties, rather than selling and leasing on site or elsewhere.

"This whole deal about selling property and leasing elsewhere has really shown itself to not be a prudent financial move by the post office," Alexander said.

"The amount of money they pay for the Biddle Road station, where they house carriers, just in rent, is outrageous. If they do like they're saying, they would be losing capital property and assuming additional debt by leasing rather than buying."

A decision about the changes would come sometime in 2010, Hass said, and the process stipulates that a public meeting would occur before any change is final.

Residents can comment on the proposal by writing to the Postal Service at: Consumer Affairs, U.S. Postal Service, P.O. Box 4759, Portland OR 97208-4759.

Julie Wurth is Web editor of the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 776-4468 or at jwurth@mailtribune.com. Freelance writer Buffy Pollock contributed to this report.