New location for Dubuque post office under consideration

The U.S. Postal Service office in downtown Dubuque might move due to ongoing financial struggles at the agency.

USPS last month sent a letter to the City of Dubuque stating that the mailing agency will begin the process of seeking a new location that could replace the current post office in the city-owned Historic Federal Building. The letter was included in this week’s City Council meeting agenda.

The move is part of an effort to reduce ongoing costs for the federal agency. The letter states that despite ongoing cost-savings efforts, the postal service must continue to find ways to reduce expenses due to the decline in physical mail volume, which is cutting into post office revenues.

“In the face of unsustainable deficits, the Postal Service must seek ways to cut costs, increase revenue and use its physical facilities as efficiently as possible,” the letter states.

Multiple messages left with USPS requesting comment were not returned.

However, city officials said they hope to work with the postal service to reduce the cost of operating at the Historic Federal Building and ensure that the post office can remain there. The postal service has operated out of the Historic Federal Building since its construction in 1934.

“We want to retain them as a tenant,” said City Manager Mike Van Milligen. “We think it’s a very convenient location for our residents, and we would like to maintain that.”

The postal service currently pays $238,000 per year to operate out of the building.

Van Milligen said an attempt previously was made to reduce the footprint of the post office in the Historic Federal Building to bring down the postal service’s costs, but those efforts were not successful.

USPS has struggled financially for years on a national scale. In federal fiscal year 2021, which ended on Sept. 30, the postal service reported a net loss of $4.9 billion. It reported a loss of $9.1 billion in the previous fiscal year.

Much of the postal service’s financial woes stem from a decline in mail volume, which generates revenue for USPS through the sale of postage, products and mail-related services.

In fiscal year 2019, total mail and package volume for the USPS reached 142 billion parcels. In fiscal year 2021, mail and package volume declined to 128.8 billion parcels.

Despite the decline in mail volume, Dubuque Mayor Brad Cavanagh said the local post office remains an important local government agency for the community.

“It would be a huge change for the community if the post office decides to move,” he said. “We very much appreciate them as a tenant.”

The postal service stated in its letter that it will search for new locations within the 52001 ZIP code, with intentions of finding a new location as close as possible to its current one.

The letter states that part of the search for a new location will include reaching out to residents for community input throughout the selection process.

The postal service’s current lease with the city at the Historic Federal Building will expire on June 30. The letter from USPS states that it will continue to operate out of that location until the lease expires or until a new post office location is up and running.