USPS: Saturday deliveries cancelled

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Sandpoint Postmaster Rebecca Rothaermel hands a young customer some packages at the local office. (Photo by CAMERON RASMUSSON)

SANDPOINT — Don’t go looking for any letters from grandma on weekends if the U.S. Postal Service moves forward on plans to nix Saturday delivery services.

In an effort to stymie a flood of financial loses, the Postal Service plans to end Saturday letter delivery in the first week of August, a move that would save the organization about $2 billion a year.

“Mail volume has dropped drastically, so this is a very important solution,” Sandpoint Postmaster Rebecca Rothaermel said.

While the announcement provoked opposition from some businesses and postal worker unions, Rothaermel said it would have more subtle implications for small, local post offices.

“I don’t think we’ll have to drop any employees,” she said.

However, part-time employees may find themselves with fewer hours to work. According to Rothaermel, the Sandpoint Post Office features four city delivery routes and 11 rural routes. That amounts to about 72 hours of work that could be impacted by the lack of Saturday letter deliveries.

Despite the cutbacks, the Postal Service plans to maintain the Saturday parcel delivery system. According to Rothaermel, the postal service has seen a 14-percent increase in package deliveries since 2010 even as letter deliveries sharply declined. Furthermore, many customers value the convenience of a Saturday package delivery, particularly when they’re expecting something valuable and want to make sure it arrives safely.

“A lot of customers are home on Saturday to receive parcels, and we want to make sure we continue providing that service for them,” Rothaermel said.

In addition, Postal Service officials plans to keep offices open on Saturday. Because of the need for office workers and Saturday delivery employees, part-time workers will still be necessary, even if they find themselves with fewer hours.

Full-time workers, on the other hand, will likely have a somewhat simpler transition.

“For the regulars, it should be easier to adjust,” Rothaermel said. “They’re used to working five days a week anyway.”

The lack of a Saturday mail service will likely impact some people more than others. Individuals that need to grab mail on a Saturday would do well to secure themselves a post office box, according to Rothaermel. Letter deliveries will still take place on Saturday to on-site mail boxes, since those services require far less overhead in terms of employee hours and vehicle wear-and-tear.

As the situation stands, most individuals are taking a wait-and-see approach, Rothaermal added. A lot could happen between now and August that could change the situation. Even so, Rothaermal said it was important the service be run as efficiently as possible.

“I think people understand that we need to stay fiscally solvent,” she said.    

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