Weekends without mail

USPS announces end of Saturday delivery, beginning in August

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Karen Bratcher a U.S. Postal Service carrier, locates her next bundle of mail for delivery Wednesday in Coeur d'Alene.

The U.S. Postal Service will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays as of this summer, the agency announced on Wednesday.

The trim in service is expected to save roughly $2 billion a year for the financially floundering service.

Both mail users and the Coeur d'Alene postmaster predict few will feel the change.

"We knew it was coming. We'd been told all along this was something that was being heavily looked at," said Ralph Parsons, acting postmaster at the Coeur d'Alene Post Office. "We just didn't have a date until now."

USPS will drop to five-day mail delivery as of the week of Aug. 5, Parsons confirmed.

Although the agency is subject to congressional control, the USPS made the decision on its own.

"This isn't a proposal. We're going to do it," Parsons said.

The agency interpreted that it can make the change itself, according to an Associated Press story, because the federal government is now operating under a temporary spending measure.

The five-day schedule has long been discussed, as the postal service has lost billions in recent years.

"We definitely do need to save some money," Parsons said.

The agency, which receives no tax-dollar support, reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year, according to the AP.

Largely contributing to that is the congressionally mandated $5.5 billion a year the USPS must set aside for future retiree health benefits, Parsons said.

"We can't afford to (pay it)," Parsons said.

The agency defaulted on billions in retiree health benefit prepayments last year.

Declining mail use and the economy are also to blame for USPS struggles, he added.

"Mail volume is down, due to Internet and people emailing," Parsons said. "That's part of the reason we're doing this."

The savings from the five-day schedule will mostly stem from "labor and fuel costs," Parsons said.

The shift will include employee reassignment and attrition, he said.

None of the 75 employees at the Coeur d'Alene Post Office will lose their jobs, he said. Their pay rates will not be affected.

"I don't think it would have a huge impact on them," Parsons said.

The USPS will still provide package and P.O. box deliveries on Saturdays, he added.

Post offices that are open on Saturdays, like the Post Falls Post Office, will still open on that day.

Parsons doubts many citizens will even notice their empty mailboxes on Saturdays.

"A lot of people don't even check their mail on Saturdays," Parsons said.

David Corpron, leaving the post office on Wednesday, said he won't be affected at all by the change.

"I do most of my bill paying online," said Corpron, in Coeur d'Alene on family business. "Everything is going to online, or you scan it and get a PDF with your smart phone."

The announcement was a relief for Timothy and Karen Youngblood, just retired in Coeur d'Alene after 30 years each in the postal service.

"It's allowing (the USPS) to change with the dynamics of technology and move forward," Karen said.

It also accommodates the increasing demand for package delivery, she said, while mail is down.

But Karen doesn't predict the change is enough to address the agency's financial issues, she said.

"We've got to have congressional assistance," she said of funding USPS retiree benefits. "We've managed what we can take out ourselves."

The change won't make much difference for UPS, said Teresa Wright, manager of the Coeur d'Alene UPS store.

The private mail service has the same system of package-only deliveries on Saturday, she said.

"It isn't a huge marketing difference," Wright said.

Post Falls resident Gary Edwards was dismayed about the doom of Saturday mail.

"I just like getting the mail on Saturday," Edwards said. "A day without mail is a really long weekend for me."

He is a proponent of supporting the postal service with taxes, he added.

"It shouldn't be a private corporation," he said. "It should just be a government service."

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