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Saturday mail to be discontinued

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By Calen McKinney

They pick up a stack and get to work.

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Sorting each piece by hand, the workers are on a deadline. The mail must be sorted soon so carriers can deliver it to Taylor County homes today.

But soon, they will do this one day less each week.

The United States Postal Service announced last week that carriers will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays, beginning the week of Aug. 5.

Packages will continue to be delivered on Saturdays, however, and post offices with Saturday hours will remain open that day.

The Taylor County post office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Though residents will no longer receive mail at their homes on Saturday, post office box holders will receive mail on Saturdays, according to Postal Service spokesperson David Walton.

Taylor County’s post office referred comment about the changes to Walton.

According to a Postal Service news release, the change is being made as part of an effort to save about $2 billion a year. The Postal Service’s unstable financial status has been discussed over the past few years, as have many potential changes to solve its financial problems.

“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,” Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, said. “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 release states that a five-day mail and package delivery schedule was also considered, though recent growth in package delivery led to maintaining the current schedule of delivering six days a week.

And even though they will continue to get packages, some people are very concerned about not getting mail six days each week, Walton said.

“I know medications are of great concern to our customers,” he said. “To those who are concerned, I encourage them getting a P.O. box.”

The cost of renting a P.O. box at the Taylor County post office starts at $34 to rent a small box for six months. To rent a medium box for six months is $52. Rent for a large box costs $92 for six months.

A common question Walton says he is hearing about the Postal Service’s announcement is why Saturday was chosen as the day to eliminate mail delivery.

“Out of all the days, it has the lowest mail volume,” he said. “A third of United States businesses are closed on Saturday. We felt it would be less disruptive.”

Walton says he doesn’t know if any positions will be eliminated at the Taylor County post office.

That will vary from office to office, he said, and depend on the mail volume at each location.

“We really don’t know what the impacts will be,” Walton said. “Right now, we just don’t have any numbers.”

He said an announcement could come soon detailing more incentives for those who are at retirement age, which could impact whether some locations lose positions.

Walton said reaction to the news has been mixed, though most people seem to understand the reasons for eliminating mail delivery on Saturday.

“I think many people do understand our position,” Walton said. “We have been around more than 200 years. It would be awful if the post office went away.”

Research conducted by the Postal Service and independent research by major news organizations, according to the release, has shown that nearly seven out of 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way to reduce costs in the Postal Service’s effort to return to financial stability.

Making the announcement more than six months before implementation, the release states, will give home and business owners time to plan and adjust for the change.

“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.”

Walton said he believes the transition to eliminate Saturday mail will be easy.

“There will be a smooth transition,” he said. “This is what we do for a living, we deliver mail. There’s no doubt in my mind this will go smoothly.”

Since 2006, the Postal Service reduced its annual cost base by about $15 billion, reduced the size of its career workforce by 28 percent and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations.

The Mannsville post office was a location studied for possible closure. Instead, the hours at the office were reduced. Walton said the Postal Service isn’t looking at any other changes to its rural offices right now. For those concerned about their mail not going out for delivery on Saturday, he said he recommends not placing items in the blue Postal Service boxes on Fridays.

To ensure mail will be go out for delivery Monday, he said, it should be taken to the Taylor County post office.

The release states that while the elimination of Saturday mail is one action needed to restore the financial health of the Postal Service, Postal Service officials also believe legislative change is needed.

“The Postal Service continues to seek legislation to provide it with greater flexibility to control costs and generate new revenue and encourages the 113th Congress to make postal reform legislation an urgent priority,” the release states. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.