The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 6, 2013

U.S. Postal Service ending Saturday mail delivery

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion annually, the financially struggling agency says.

In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August.

The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points - package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.

Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages - and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval.

But the agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side regarding the change.

Material prepared for the Wednesday press conference by Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, says Postal Service market research and other research has indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.

“The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America’s changing mailing habits,” Donahoe said in a statement prepared for the announcement. “We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings.”

The Postal Service is making the announcement Wednesday, more than six months before the switch, to give residential and business customers time to plan and adjust, the statement said.

“The American public understands the financial challenges of the Postal Service and supports these steps as a responsible and reasonable approach to improving our financial situation,” Donahoe said. “The Postal Service has a responsibility to take the steps necessary to return to long-term financial stability and ensure the continued affordability of the U.S. Mail.”

He said the change would mean a combination of employee reassignment and attrition and is expected to achieve cost savings of approximately $2 billion annually when fully implemented.

The agency in November reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013, capping a tumultuous year in which it was forced to default on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments to avert bankruptcy.

The financial losses for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 were more than triple the $5.1 billion loss in the previous year. Having reached its borrowing limit, the mail agency is operating with little cash on hand.

The agency’s biggest problem - and the majority of the red ink in 2012 - was not due to reduced mail flow but rather to mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of the losses. Without that and other related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion, lower than the previous year.

The health payments are a requirement imposed by Congress in 2006 that the post office set aside $55 billion in an account to cover future medical costs for retirees. The idea was to put $5.5 billion a year into the account for 10 years. That’s $5.5 billion the post office doesn’t have.

No other government agency is required to make such a payment for future medical benefits. Postal authorities wanted Congress to address the issue last year, but lawmakers finished their session without getting it done. So officials are moving ahead to accelerate their own plan for cost-cutting.

The Postal Service is in the midst of a 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 by 28 percent, and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations, officials say.

They say that while the change in the delivery schedule announced Wednesday is one of the actions needed to restore the financial health of the service, they still urgently need lawmakers to act. Officials say they continue to press for legislation that will give them greater flexibility to control costs and make new revenues.

 

1
Text Only
News
  • DEA packet compares school scores, salaries

    DANVLLE — Members of the Danville Education Association are circulating a pamphlet as part of their planned strike on Thursday.

    April 16, 2014

  • Snyder DA says email security breach could be a crime

    MIDDLEBURG — Even though acting Midd-West Superintendent Daphne Snook may not have broken school policy by monitoring district emails, Valley legal experts say she still may have broken the law.

    April 16, 2014

  • Midd-West board feels backlash

    April 16, 2014

  • Good Morning Central Susquehanna Valley

    Today is Wednesday, April 16, the 106th day of 2014. There are 259 days left in the year. On April 16, 1964, The Rolling Stones’ first album, eponymously titled “The Rolling Stones,” was released in the United Kingdom by Decca Records (a slightly different version debuted in the United States a month and a-half later).

    April 16, 2014

  • Donkey basketball draws 600, raises $1,800

    SUNBURY — The Shikellamy Fieldhouse was loud and rocking Tuesday night as Shikellamy High School students took on the Valley All-Stars in a donkey basketball fundraiser to benefit Newspapers in Education.

    April 15, 2014

  • mail16a.jpg Post Offices busy just before today's tax deadline

    SUNBURY — Bill Shambach plopped his three envelopes addressed to tax collectors on the counter of the Post Office on North Third Street at 12:15 p.m. this afternoon — four hours before the office closed for the day.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Guzzardi_Bob.png Governor's Republican opponent remains on primary ballot

    HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania state judge has ruled that a Republican gubernatorial candidate can stay on the May 20 primary ballot as the lone challenger to Gov. Tom Corbett.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suspect in Kansas shootings faces murder charges

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Kansas prosecutors filed state-level murder charges Tuesday against the white supremacist accused in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City.

    April 15, 2014

  • Woman found in attic dies following house fire

    WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — Authorities in northeastern Pennsylvania say fire claimed the life of a woman overnight.
    Officials in Luzerne County say crews were called to the Wilkes-Barre residence just before 11:30 p.m. Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cold0415.jpg Local weather takes a major plunge today

    STATE COLLEGE — Heavy rain and thunderstorms will sweep across the Northeast later today, putting many at risk for dangerous flooding and damaging winds.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee
Poll

Are you among those who will be completing and mailing your tax forms today?

Yes
No - Already Filed
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.