Athens Review, Athens, Texas

Local News

April 10, 2013

Post office retreats on eliminating Saturday mail

Athens — WASHINGTON — The beleaguered U.S. Postal Service backed down from its cost-saving plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, acknowledging that Congress barred a move that supporters said was essential to addressing the agency's dire financial condition.

Despite the retreat, the governing board said Wednesday that it's not possible for the Postal Service to meet its goals for reduced spending without altering the delivery schedule. Delaying "responsible changes," the board said, only makes it more likely that the Postal Service "may become a burden" to taxpayers.

The Postal Service said in February that it planned to switch to five-day-a-week deliveries beginning in August for everything except packages as a way to hold down losses.

But that announcement was a gamble. The agency essentially was asking Congress to drop from spending legislation the longtime ban on five-day-only delivery. Congress did not do that when it passed a spending measure last month.

"By including restrictive language ... Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule for mail and package," the postal Board of Governors said in a statement Wednesday.

The board said it was disappointed by the congressional action, but would not disregard the law. It directed the Postal Service to delay putting in place the new delivery schedule until Congress passes legislation that gives the agency "the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule."

The board made the decision in a closed meeting Tuesday.

Officials said that to restore the service to long-term financial stability, the agency must have the flexibility to reduce costs and come up with new revenues.

"It is not possible for the Postal Service to meet significant cost reduction goals without changing its delivery schedule — any rational analysis of our current financial condition and business options leads to this conclusion," the board statement said.

An independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control. It lost nearly $16 billion last year — $11.1 billion of that due to a 2006 law Congress passed forcing it to pay into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does.

"Given these extreme circumstances and the worsening financial condition of the Postal Service, the board has directed management to seek a reopening of negotiations with the postal unions and consultations with management associations to lower total workforce costs, and to take administrative actions necessary to reduce costs," according to the statement. It offered no giving further details.

It said the board also asked management to look at further options to raise revenues, including a rate increase.

The Postal Service already is executing a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has reduced annual costs by approximately $15 billion, cut its workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations.

GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he was disappointed in the change of plans announced Wednesday and noted that polls show a majority of people support the reduced delivery schedule.

"This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of Postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts," Issa said in a statement.

"Despite some assertions, it's quite clear that special interest lobbying and intense political pressure played a much greater role in the Postal Service's change of heart than any real or perceived barrier to implementing what had been announced."

Sen. Tom Carper, a leader on postal issues, said he hoped Congress would pass new legislation to address the agency's problems.

"Even though today's decision by the Postal Service's Board of Governors delays its controversial proposal, the urgent need for the administration and Congress to work together to save the Postal Service by making hard decisions and tackling controversial issues like Saturday delivery remains," Carper, D-Del., said in a statement.

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.

The idea to cut mail but keep six-day package delivery played up the agency's strong point. It's package service is growing as more people buy things online, while the volume of letters sent has slumped with increased use of email and other internet services.

The Senate last year passed a bill that would have stopped the postal service from eliminating Saturday service for at least two years and required it to try two years of aggressive cost cutting instead. The House didn't pass a bill.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 2726192_300x300.jpg Darin Karl found Thursday on Cedar Creek Lake

    The body of a 42-year-old man who had been missing in Cedar Creek Lake was recovered on Thursday.
    The drowning victim was identified as Darin Lynn Karl of Kemp. According to Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt, Karl and his nephew were fishing near Cedar Creek Country Club when the boat overturned, ejecting the men. 

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif AISD approves moving monthly meeting, additional drug testing

    Discussion on meal prices for the 2014-15 school year was pulled from Thursday's Athens Independent School District Board of Trustees agenda but other items were approved that will bring about change in the district.
    By unanimous decision, the school board approved changes to the scheduled date for its monthly meetings; additional drug testing on the high school campus and modification to the graduation policy.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-19 drugs.tif Prescription Drug Take Back Day April 26

    On Saturday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Athens Police Department and Keep Athens Beautiful will host the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, giving the public its seventh opportunity in four years to prevent pill abuse and theft.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • ADR logo.tif Feud between Tool VFDs extends to city council

    The two volunteer fire departments in Tool have been dueling for 11 years. The feud between the two departments started in 2003, when the citizens of Tool voted to establish Emergency Service District No. 4. According to reports, this was about the same time the Tool Volunteer Fire Department was established.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Would Lake Athens residents suffer if city controls water?

    Members of Lake Athens Property Owners Association have been watching the dispute between the City of Athens and the Athens Municipal Water Authority uncertain of how this will affect their future.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Hot issue

    The two volunteer fire departments in Tool have been dueling for 11 years. The feud between the two departments started in 2003, when the citizens of Tool voted to establish Emergency Service District No. 4. According to reports, this was about the same time the Tool Volunteer Fire Department was established.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADR logo.tif Surplus property to be moved or demolished

    Athens Independent School District purchased property at 404 Royall Street during its March school board meeting with the intent to square off property previously purchased by the district.
    During Thursday's school board meeting, a unanimous decision was made to designate the property as surplus and advertise the home to be moved or demolished.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_0077.JPG Taste of Home Cooking School

    The Taste of Home Cooking School was held Thursday at the Cain Center. Hundreds attended the events that was sponsored by Cole A/C and the Athens Daily Review.
     

    April 19, 2014 6 Photos

  • ADR logo.tif City, AMWA differ on future management of water supply

    The 57-year relationship between the Athens Municipal Water Authority and the City of Athens grew stormy in 2013 because of a disagreement over who should pay certain bills.
    The difference-of-opinion led to the Authority filing suit against the city last December, and the city responding by setting the wheels in motion that slated a May 10 election to decide whether to abolish AMWA.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-18 Easter.jpg Excited and ready

    Lexie and Isabella Hawkins are excited and ready for the Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 19 at 9 a.m. in Kiwanis Park.  Bicycles, rabbits and lots of Easter Eggs will be waiting for you. Everyone is welcome, and of course the Easter Bunny will be there.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo