P.O. needs public support
by Rory Doyle
Feb 20, 2013 | 1347 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Americans could soon be seeing the end of Saturday mail delivery.

The United States Postal Service announced tentative plans earlier this month to cut back to five delivery days a week for everything except packages, beginning Aug. 5.

The plan could resolve some of the service's major financial losses in this digital age where the Internet has dramatically altered how much citizens rely on the post office.

The way the Postal Service describes it; the move allows the service to change with the times in hopes of eventually operating in the black.

"Our financial condition is urgent," Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe declared on Feb. 6.

Under the proposed plan, post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open and delivery of packages of all sizes would continue six days a week.

Customers would still be able to access their PO boxes and submit all mail at the front counter.

"Reports show that this could save the Postal Service around $2 billon," said Cleveland Postmaster Lorenzo Terry. "We're in the Internet age and we're going to have to do something to keep up.

"Seven out of 10 people said they could do without the Saturday delivery, so I think it could be a good change for us."

Terry contended substantial money would be saved because fewer carriers would be needed for just package deliveries and money would be saved on gas by sending out fewer vehicles.

The service suffered a $15.9 billion loss in the past budget year and has forecasted more red ink in 2013.

The Postal Service, an agency independent of government, does not receive tax money for its operations but is subject to congressional control over major aspects.

The majority of the red ink comes from a 2006 law forcing it to pay about $5.5 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does.

Without that payment — $11.1 billion in a two-year installment last year — and related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion for the past fiscal year, lower than the previous year.

The Postal Service is also in the midst of major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail-processing operations.

Since 2006, it has cut annual costs by about $15 billion, reduced the size of its career workforce by 193,000, or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail-processing locations, officials say.

Terry added that he understands changes are necessary in the ever-evolving technological world, but he said community support is the true backbone of the service.

"The community is the key to survival for post offices," said Terry. "If the public doesn't support us then we're going to have to do something. Most people understand what the post office is going through."