Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

November 15, 2012

Action needed

Decisions soon must be made about future of U.S. Postal Service

The news for the U.S. Postal Service is not getting any better.

Chief Financial Officer Joe Corbett said Thursday the service’s net loss last year reached $15.9 billion — nearly a billion dollars more than had been projected. Unless Congress takes action, the service will run out of money next Oct. 15, after it makes a required workers compensation payment to the U.S. Labor Department. Unfortunately, that date will be weeks before the postal service’s best revenue time of the year — the Christmas holiday season.

Postal service officials have asked Congress to pass legislation permitting it to spread future retirees’ health benefit payments over more years, stop Saturday mail delivery and make it easier for the service to close post offices and processing plants.

Cumberland, like many other communities, has been on a list of possible downsizing. But local postal officials said recently that Cumberland’s postal sorting operation is safe for now until studies are conducted on the possibility of moving low-volume Saturday operations to Baltimore.

At a meeting at the U.S. Postal Service headquarters in Washington Thursday, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the service is walking a “financial tightrope.” But as far as shutting down completely, he said, “Will we ever stop delivering the mail? It will never happen. We are simply too important to the economy and the flow of commerce.”

Whatever decisions about the postal service’s future are made, they should come soon. Congress for too long has delayed action, leaving postal service leaders — and their customers — to wonder if a solution will ever be forthcoming.

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