USPS cuts back on delivery

Lori Allen/ The News

Lori Allen/ The News
A Marshall County woman drops off her mail at the Benton, Ky., post office. The U.S. Postal Service is considering dropping Saturday mail delivery

The U.S. Postal Service is planning to end Saturday mail delivery by the beginning of August this year.

Without congressional consent, however, the service cannot make decisions on this large of a scale.

Over the last few years, the service has lost billions of dollars, mainly due to the technological changes in mail service. Ending Saturday delivery would decrease debt by $2.2 billion.

David Walton, media contact for Kentucky’s Postal Service, said he has no complaints about the change.

“It’s absolutely beneficial,” Walton said. “It will definitely help in the long run. We chose Saturdays because surveys showed seven out of 10 Americans said they wouldn’t mind going without mail delivery on the weekends.”

Walton also said the service is looking to run more as a business than a government organization. Currently, national post offices run on their own revenue, with no funds coming from tax dollars. Since Congress mandates the Postal Service, though, it cannot run as a normal business.

George Washington and James Madison started the legislation to open post offices in 1792. Saturday delivery began in 1863, the same year letter delivery began.

Recent changes in technology have altered the service, especially after Americans began paying bills online. The only increase the service has received in the last few years has been in parcel delivery.

“The service can remain a viable model; it just needs to evolve,” Walton said.

While Walton said the least amount of daily mail is delivered on Saturdays, several businesses rely heavily on weekend mail.

Alice Rouse, publisher of the Murray Ledger & Times, said if Congress approves the changes, 1,000 customers will not receive their newspaper in the mail on Saturdays. Rouse said they may have to hire a courier for Saturday deliveries, which could be pricey.

“(Using the Postal Service) was the reason we changed the structure to print the paper at 2:30 a.m. in instead of at 10:30 a.m,” Rouse said. “We’re going to have to watch the news, but we’re not sure what the game plan is.”

Rouse said an option is always to stop putting out a paper for Saturdays, although she has never wanted to make that decision.

“As the time changes, you have to change with the times,” Rouse said. “It’s really going to affect us if it does go through.”

While reports say one-third of all businesses are closed on Saturdays, Rouse said she believes the change will affect businesses other than newspapers.

Other than the changing business aspect of the postal service, federal post offices hire the most Americans, behind Walmart. Although the service has eliminated nearly 193,000 jobs, there has never been a major layoff.

While some think Congress needs to allow the Postal Service to act like a business, others think the it should adhere to policies the founding fathers created.

Story by Lexy Gross, Assistant News Editor.