Readers Respond

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five-day mail delivery?


/ Storm Lake Postmaster

Thank you for to all who have shared views on the Postmaster General's recent statements, which included the possibility that the Postal Service may have to consider reducing the days of delivery due to the downturn in the general economy.

I should note, however, that our priority focus is on working with Congress to change our contribution schedule for the retiree health benefit fund. We are the only government agency required to fully fund all projected retiree health care costs. The Postmaster General has asked that the payment schedule for funding be adjusted. Such a modification to the schedule of payments would allow the Postal Service to focus on current financial needs during this global economic downturn. None of our proposals would involve the Postal Service once again receiving revenue from general taxes (the Postal Service has not received operational funding from tax revenues for more than a quarter of a century).

While we await decisions on the health care funding request the Postal Service has taken many initiatives to reduce costs. These include, but are not limited to, halting construction of new postal facilities, capping salaries of all Postal Service officers and executives, reducing management staffing by up to 19 percent, and consolidating some duplicative processing operations.

Our current thinking is if the Postal Service is not allowed to postpone retiree health care benefits for at least the next two years, if given approval, we may look at a temporary solution of limiting delivery to five days a week. This would come only during those periods of the year when mail volume is at its lowest and the actual implementation would be infrequent. Quite possibly, the change would neither be for every week nor for a long period of time. No decisions have been made as to what day we may consider as the "non-delivery" day, and this would not be decided until we begin to plan implementation.

In summary, the Postal Service's primary goal is to continue to provide the American people with quality, affordable service. We are sensitive that the economic realities have changed significantly, and we will continue to work with Congress to find the best possible remedy. We believe our current cost reduction strategies, teamed with the restructuring of health benefit payments, are the best option. We will seek a change in delivery only if the other cost reduction measures do not meet their goals.

We greatly value the "voice of our customer," and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us on this plan. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at (732-1329).