Saturday mail delivery in jeopardy

Debbie RolenStaff Writer

February 7, 2013

The U.S. Postal Service, which posted an almost $16 billion loss last year, announced Wednesday that it plans to end Saturday mail delivery in an effort to cut costs. The plan, which is aimed at saving about $2 billion, would take effect in August.

The Postal Service is an independent agency which receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations; however, it is subject to congressional control. Therefore, it’s unclear how Saturday mail delivery can be eliminated without congressional approval.

For the past 30 years, Congress has included a provision insisting on Saturday delivery. That provision still stands. The Postal Service has repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, appealed to Congress to approve a plan for mail delivery five days a week.

W.Va. Congressman Nick Joe Rahall issued a statement in response to the plan. “The Postal Service cannot circumvent the will of Congress, which has been explicit in requiring the continuance of six-day mail delivery service for the past 30 years. Whatever basis the Postal Service is claiming to discontinue Saturday mail delivery, it runs counter to the spirit and letter of the law, and I intend to press hard to ensure that the Postal Service abides by the law. The Postal Service needs to look at other ways to balance its books rather than cutting off rural customers and undermining its public service obligations.”

Rahall met with representatives of the National League of Postmasters to discuss protecting post offices and mail delivery in southern West Virginia. Rahall thinks the Postal Service should look at other ways to improve and modernize services rather than cut off rural customers.

The agency thinks a majority of the American public is on its side since people are increasing their use of the internet and email and decreasing the amount of letter mail. In addition, Postal Service and other market research indicates nearly seven in ten Americans support the change to five-day mail delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.

Since package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, weekend package delivery will remain in place. Mail will still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays and post offices now open on Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays.