The financially struggling U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday it will stop delivering mail such as letters and magazines on Saturdays, but will continue distributing packages six days a week.
How this impacts local post offices has yet to be seen as the U.S. Postal Service is in the midst of massive budget cuts in order to remain solvent.
McMinnville Post Office currently has 41 employees, according to postmater Brent Nunley.
“I don’t know right now and can’t say for certain if this move will affect anyone’s job,” said Nunley. “Obviously, it is possible. Our window hours for the office downtown will remain the same on Saturdays. We are open from 9 to 11 a.m. Post offices that are open now on Saturdays should continue to be open on Saturdays,”
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 workforce by 193,000, or 28 percent, and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations.
Saturday delivery is scheduled to stop Aug. 5.
“We are still gathering information. We were only told the news this morning,” Nunley said Wednesday. “I assume priority mail packages, first class and express like medicines will still be delivered on Saturdays. Mail addressed to post office boxes will still be delivered on Saturdays. Mail addressed to street addresses, however, will not be delivered on Saturdays. This move should save the postal service $2 billion annually per year once it is implemented.”
Nunley said the postal service is giving a six-month notice to give its customers time to adjust to the change.
The latest 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.
“The package business is growing due to ecommerce,” said Nunley.
McMinnville resident Dr. Joe Troop said, “If the postal service is bankrupt, they have to do what they’ve got to do to save money.”
Carolyn Morgan said, “It doesn’t bother me. I will miss getting mail on Saturday but we’ll adjust to it.”
Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages. The service repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, appealed to Congress to approve the move.
The postal service, being an independent agency, gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operating expenses, but is subject to congressional control. It relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
Congress has included a ban on five-day delivery in its appropriations bill. Because the federal government now operates under a temporary spending measure, rather than an appropriations bill, Donahoe says it’s the agency’s interpretation it can make the change itself.
Postal Service market research and other research indicates nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs, the agency said.
The Postal Service’s financial losses for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 were more than triple the $5.1 billion loss the previous year.
The agency’s biggest problem – and the majority of red ink in 2012 – was attributed to mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of the losses. The agency was forced to default on the $11.1 billion in retiree health benefit prepayments in order to avert bankruptcy. Without that and other related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion, lower than the previous year.
Nunley said more information concerning the changes being made at the post office can be found at www.usps.com or by calling him at 473-3667.