Cumberland Times-News

May 3, 2012

Congressman sees Senate postal bill as ‘bailout’

Bartlett supports delivery standards but points to heavy debt that accumulates daily

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — A U.S. Senate bill designed to save Cumberland’s mail processing facility, among others. doesn’t pass muster for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett.

“I support maintaining next day delivery standards in rural areas that would keep the Cumberland mail processing facility open. However, overall the Senate bill is an irresponsible $33 billion bailout that fails to stem the post office’s red ink. The post office is incurring daily deficits of $25 million on top of its debt of more than $13 billion,” Bartlett said. Bartlett’s comments reflect the concerns of U.S. Postal Service leaders about the Senate bill, said Lisa Lyons Wright, Bartlett’s press secretary.

It’s unclear when the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the Senate bill. The House is not in session this week and the bill will be considered by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Wright said. Bartlett is not a member of that committee. Wright said it’s rare for the House and Senate to see eye to eye on most legislation, especially on a matter as complex as the Postal Service.

“Postal customers and taxpayers will eventually have to pay back all of that money for the post office to become self-supporting,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett’s view of things didn’t sit well with Jack Davis, the president of AFSCME Local 1633, which represents Allegany County public employees.

“To me, Congressman Bart-lett is out there and doesn’t understand the problem,” Davis said. Davis said the Postal Service’s real problem is an antiquated pension system that “funds the retirement of employees not born yet.”

Key to the Senate bill, and protecting the future of the Cumberland facility, is a provision preserving current delivery standards for at least three years. That provision mandates overnight delivery of first-class mail within many communities and a maximum of three days for first-class mail sent anywhere in the continental United States, a press release from U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin’s office said. It’s that provision that would keep the Cumberland processing facility open.

The Postal Service had previously announced that the Cumberland mail processing facility would be closed. The Postal Service’s projected savings by eliminating the Cumberland mail processing operations and what officials say are 30 positions would net $2,159,374 in salaries and maintenance and transportation costs. The proposal would have moved the mail operation to Johnstown, Pa., which would have delayed next-day mail delivery in Cumberland. The cuts would not have affected retail service at the Cumberland Post Office.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.