At a glance
• U.S. Postal Service proposing to cut Saturday mail home delivery nationwide.
• Estimates indicate the Postal Service could save $3 billion annually if Saturday home delivery is cut.
• Mail volume dropped by 25.6 billion pieces in 2009, accounting for a loss of $7 billion in revenue.
• The Postal Service finished the 2009 fiscal year with a $3.8 billion loss.
• Current proposals allow for post offices to remain open and delivery to post office boxes to continue on Saturdays.
In less than a year, residents could find their home mailboxes empty on Saturdays.
Due to declining mail volume and revenue, the U.S. Postal Service has proposed eliminating a day of delivering home mail, most likely Saturday, the lowest mail volume day of the week, said Al DeSarro, the Postal Service’s Western Slope spokesman.
The Postal Service estimates it could save $3 billion to $5 billion a year by cutting Saturday home delivery, DeSarro said.
Postal carrier Kerry Kelly, a 51-year-old Hamilton resident, has been a temporary post office employee for three years. She spent part of Thursday delivering mail in the 500 block of Russell Street.
Kelly said she is against the idea of going to five-day home delivery.
“I think if they go to a five-day delivery, my job is gone,” she said.
“Luckily, I have a husband that has a really good job. It will affect us, but I am not afraid to go out and find another job.”
As a temporary employee, Kelly said she fills in for other carriers when they are on vacation. Implementation of five-day home delivery, she said, could mean other postal staff taking her position.
“The other (temporary employee) that I work with, she is the sole supporter in her family,” she said. “So it would hurt her a lot.”
For the 2009 fiscal year, the Postal Service finished with a $3.8 billion loss despite trimming costs by $6 billion, according to the Postal Service’s website.
The financial woes of the post office can be traced, in part, to declining mail volume, DeSarro said.
In 2009, the Postal Service’s mail volume dropped by 25.6 billion pieces, or about 13 percent of the total volume, according to the Postal Service’s website. That decrease resulted in about a $7 billion loss in 2009.
The elimination of Saturday home delivery would require a change in the law by Congress, DeSarro said.
“We are hoping that they would seriously consider it,” DeSarro said.
Six-day home delivery is currently written into federal statues, DeSarro said.
He said Congress could approve the five-day delivery proposal in the early part of next year, and the earliest the Postal Service could implement five-day delivery would be July 2011.
Postal carrier Barb Sholes, 56, said she doubts Saturday delivery will be cut.
“It’s not feasible for it to happen,” she said. Because of “the amount of overtime they would have to pay to catch up on from one day they don’t deliver.”
But feasibility aside, Sholes said it would be a “bad idea” for the Postal Service to cut any day’s delivery.
“I don’t think that anyone that works for the post office, except for maybe the upper management is for it,” she said.
“There is so much waste in the Postal Service that they need to start looking at that waste first before they really get serious about a five-day delivery.”
Sholes said she is not sure if the Postal Service will lay any employees off, but canceling Saturday delivery could impact businesses.
“It is going to affect businesses that see Saturday mail delivery and have mail to go out on Saturday the carriers won’t be able to pick up,” she said. “I mean, not so much here in a small town, but in the larger places where you have larger business.”
DeSarro said the Postal Service is making other cost-saving measures, such as the realignment of letter carrier routes, saving on transportation and fuel costs, and implementing automation of some services.
“Without any employee layoffs, we have been able, through normal attrition, to reduce our national workforce over the last two years,” he said.
The Postal Service has eliminated 140,000 positions the last two years through measures like its early retirement program, automated equipment and revamping services, DeSarro said. In the last 10 years, the Postal Service has eliminated 200,000 positions and currently has about 600,000 employees.
DeSarro said the Postal Service would not lay off employees or cut hours if home delivery were cut on Saturdays.
Under the current proposal, post offices would remain open and delivery to post office boxes would continue on Saturdays.
Express mail service would also not be affected, according to the website.
DeSarro said there have been several polls conducted that indicate about 70 percent of U.S. citizens “would be OK” with eliminating Saturday service.
“If the Postal Service wants to continue to be viable, this is the way to go,” he said. “I don’t think the American public is looking for any kind of postal bailout. I don’t think they want us to receive any special tax money or anything like that.”