Cumberland Times-News

Local News

February 6, 2013

Goodbye Saturday mail?

Postal service planning to stamp out weekend delivery

WASHINGTON — Saturday mail may soon go the way of the Pony Express and penny postcards. The U.S. Postal Service said Wednesday that it plans to cut back to five-day-a-week deliveries for everything except packages to stem its financial losses in a world radically re-ordered by the Internet.

“Our financial condition is urgent,” declared Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe. But Congress has voted in the past to bar the idea of eliminating Saturday delivery, and his announcement immediately drew protests from some lawmakers. The plan, which is to take effect in August, also brought vigorous objections from farmers, the letter carriers’ union and others.

The postal service, which suffered a $15.9 billion loss in the past budget year, said it expected to save $2 billion annually with the Saturday cutback. Mail such as letters and magazines would be affected. Delivery of packages of all sizes would continue six days a week.

The plan 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 plummeted. Email has decreased the mailing of paper letters, but online purchases have increased package shipping, forcing the postal service to adjust to customers’ new habits.

“Things change,” Donahoe said. In fact, the postal service has had to adapt to changing times ever since Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general by the Continental Congress in 1775. The Pony Express began in 1860, six-day delivery started in 1863, and airmail became the mode in 1918. Twice-a-day delivery was cut to one in 1950 to save money.

But change is not the biggest factor in the agency’s predicament — Congress is. The majority of the service’s red ink comes from a 2006 law forcing it to pay about $5.5 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does. Without that payment — $11.1 billion in a two-year installment last year — and related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion for the past fiscal year, lower than the previous year.

Congress also has stymied the service’s efforts to close some post offices in small towns.

Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open.

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages — and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully has appealed to Congress to approve the move. An independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

The proposed change is based on what appears to be a legal loophole — and that may be a gamble. Congress has long included a ban on five-day-only delivery in its spending bills, but because the federal government is now operating under a temporary spending measure rather than an appropriations bill, Donahoe said it’s the agency’s interpretation that it can make the change itself.

“This is not like a ‘gotcha’ or anything like that,” he said. The agency essentially wants Congress to keep the ban out of any new spending bill after the temporary measure expires March 27.

Might Congress try to block the idea? “Let’s see what happens,” he said. “I can’t speak for Congress.”

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 43-year-old receives prison time for molesting his niece

    CUMBERLAND — A 43-year-old city man was sentenced Wednesday to a 10-year prison term for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County.

    April 24, 2014

  • House of cards House of cards

    Sixth-graders James Patalinghug, left, and Nina Cutter build a multilevel tower out of index cards Tuesday afternoon at Washington Middle School. The activity was part of a science, technology, engineering, math, known as STEM, lesson designed to teach students about load distribution, friction and gravity.
     

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORY ORNDORFF Green Spring man sentenced to 40 years for toddler’s death

    ROMNEY, W.Va. — Hampshire County Circuit Court Judge H. Charles Carl III sentenced 22-year-old Cory A. Orndorff of Green Spring to 40 years in prison for one count of child abuse resulting in the death of an 18-month-old child Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Glen Bell, a public information officer 900-acre Bear Den wildfire 70 percent contained

    CENTERVILLE, Pa. — A 900-acre wildfire on Wills Mountain in Bedford County was said Wednesday to be “the largest fire in Pennsylvania this spring season,” according to Cecile Stelter, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry public information officer.
    The fire that was reportedly situated mostly on state game lands began Saturday at about 2 p.m., with initial firefighting efforts handled by the Cumberland Valley Township Volunteer Fire Department at Centerville.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • System to provide firefighters quick access could be required in new Mineral businesses

    KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Commission agreed to look into the possibility of implementing an ordinance that would require new commercial businesses to install a KNOX-BOX Rapid Entry System.

    April 23, 2014

  • Puff & Stuff owners agree to settlement over claims they sold synthetic drugs

    CUMBERLAND — Charles and Traci Casey, owners of Puff & Stuff stores in Cumberland and LaVale, have agreed to forfeit $173,988.61, to settle claims that they sold synthetic drugs at their stores.

    April 23, 2014

  • Mall maulers

    Chad Trail, Rick Ryan, Mike Lawrence and Rusty Pyles, Cumberland Street Department employees, work on replacing the concrete strips that run between the bricks on the Downtown Cumberland Mall between Centre and Liberty streets.

    April 23, 2014

  • CHARLES  SEVERANCE W.Va. judge orders Severance extradited to Virginia

    WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A man wanted for questioning in relation to three unsolved slayings in Alexandria, Va., in the past decade should be extradited to Virginia on an unrelated weapons charge, a West Virginia judge ruled Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Keyser man faces charges in Easter incident

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Mineral County Prosecuting Attorney Jay Courrier is faced with deciding whether to charge a Keyser man with disturbing a religious worship.

    April 23, 2014

  • 43-year-old receives prison time for molesting his niece

    CUMBERLAND — A 43-year-old city man was sentenced Wednesday to a 10-year prison term for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County.

    April 23, 2014

Facebook
Must Read
News related video