Printed on: February 08, 2013

Businesses take proposal of Sat. mail halt in stride

By Alex Stuckey
astuckey@postregister.com

Snail mail in Idaho Falls could be even slower beginning in August, but local business entities don't seem concerned about adverse effects.

The U.S. Postal Service plans to halt nationwide Saturday delivery of most mailers, letters and catalogs in August, which would save the agency $2 billion per year. The announcement came Wednesday.

The change to a five-day delivery week would affect only first-class mail. The change would not affect packages and priority and express mail, Postal Service spokesman Robert Vunder said.

"We'll save money because the way we deliver mail today is we cover every route six days a week," he said. "If the plan is implemented, we'll only have to do that five days a week, and on Saturday, one person could take five or more routes."

In November, the Postal Service reported an annual loss of $15.9 billion, according to The New York Times.

Marvin Kropielniski, Chesbro Music Co.'s operations manager, isn't concerned about a shortened delivery week. In fact, he welcomes it.

"Personally, I've been saying it for the last four years: Why do I have to have Saturday mail?" Kropielniski said. "We could probably get mail three days a week and it would be sufficient."

Chesbro receives very little mail on Saturdays, so curtailing that delivery wouldn't be devastating, he said.

Though the city of Idaho Falls sends bills, such as utilities, to its residents, IT Analyst Supervisor Terry Dawson said the change affects the city little.

"We don't normally mail bills out on Saturday," Dawson said. "Normally, Monday through Friday is when we do our mailing."

Technically, the Postal Service cannot reduce its service without Congress' approval. Since 1981, a congressional mandate has required the agency to deliver mail six days a week, according to The New York Times.

However, the agency argues that the current continuing resolution does not contain language mandating six-day delivery, meaning it could make changes without congressional approval, Vunder said.

A continuing resolution is a type of appropriations legislation that funds government agencies if a formal appropriations bill is not signed by the end of the congressional fiscal year. The current continuing resolution expires March 27.

"(Five-day delivery) may not actually happen," Vunder said. "There are probably a lot of emotions involved. We'll just have to see."