Friday, February 8, 2013

Postal Service cuts will hit south county

Ketchum customers won't be affected

Express Staff Writer

Postal clerk Doug Story helps a customer at the Ketchum Post Office on Wednesday. The Ketchum Post Office will remain open on Saturdays and will continue P.O. box delivery on Saturdays, even as south county customers lose six-day mail home-delivery service.
Express photo by Roland Lane

    Residents of southern Blaine County who have their mail delivered to their home are in for a change, after the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it plans to no longer provide mail delivery to residential mailboxes on Saturdays.
    In a measure to cut its costs, the Postal Service said it will cancel home delivery of letters, bills, catalogs and other regular mail on Saturdays. Package delivery and post office box delivery will remain in place Monday through Saturday, the service announced.
    The Postal Service stated in a news release dated Feb. 6 that the cuts to delivery will save the service $2 billion dollars once the plan is fully implemented. The last day of Saturday delivery will be Aug. 3.
    Brian Sperry, regional spokesman for the Postal Service, said the service lost $15.9 billion last year alone, in part because fewer Americans are using the service to send letters and pay bills.

“We will still box mail six days a week, like we have forever.”
John McDonald
Ketchum postmaster

    “America’s mailing habits are changing,” he said. “Americans used to pay bills through the Postal Service, and many are now paying bills online.”
    Sperry said the Postal Service has seen a 25 percent decrease in first-class mail over the past year. But package deliveries have gone up 14 percent since 2010, leading to the service’s decision to maintain package delivery service six days a week.
    “We forecast that that [demand] will continue to rise as Americans continue to order more and more things online,” Sperry said.
    Sperry said the cuts to the delivery schedule would not result in any layoffs, even in Hailey where home delivery does occur six days a week.
    “The Postal Service will accomplish this reduction through attrition and reassignment,” he said, adding that the service has managed to reduce its workforce by 193,000 positions since 2006 without layoffs.
    The Hailey Post Office delivers mail to homes throughout the 83333 zip code, from East Fork south through Hailey. The Bellevue Post Office offers mail delivery to homes in the 83313 zip code. By August, those customers should expect to see mail delivered only five days a week.
    Ketchum Postmaster John McDonald said customers in the Ketchum-Sun Valley area would not be affected by the cuts in service. Home delivery is not provided in that area.
    “We will still box mail six days a week, like we have forever,” he said.
    Sperry said the new delivery schedule is part of a larger Postal Service plan to reduce costs by $20 billion by 2015. Other parts of the plan include adjusting hours at some smaller post offices to match the hours that customers actually use the service and consolidating processing.
    A Gallup poll conducted in March 2010 and polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News in June 2012 showed that 70 percent of Americans supported a switch to five-day mail delivery as a way for the Postal Service to regain financial stability.
    The service does not receive taxpayer funding, and is instead funded through the sale of postage, products and services.

Kate Wutz:

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