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Post office to continue Saturday delivery
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The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service backed down from its plan to save money by eliminating Saturday mail delivery last week.The plan to go to five-day delivery was apparently not possible without a vote from Congress to drop a long-time ban on five-day-only delivery.Since Congress did not do away with the ban when it passed a spending measure last month, Saturday delivery will continue.Supporters of five-day delivery, however, said the move was essential to addressing the agency's dire financial condition.The governing board of USPS said last week that it was not possible for the postal service to meet its goals for reduced spending without altering the delivery schedule.Delaying “responsible changes” only makes it more likely that the postal service “may become a burden” to taxpayers, the board said.The post office had planned to switch to five-day-a-week deliveries beginning in August for everything but packages.“By including restrictive language . . . Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule for mail and package,” said the postal board of governors.The board said it was disappointed by the action of Congress, but would follow the law.The postal service was directed to delay putting the new delivery schedule in place 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 last 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 revenue.An independent agency, USPS gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations, but is still subject to Congressional control.The postal service estimated it would save roughly $2 billion a year by moving to five-day delivery of some postal products.With nearly $16 billion in losses last year, the postal service must now seek other ways to get the agency back into the black.It is already executing a major restructuring in its retail, delivery, and mail-processing operations.Annual costs have been reduced by about $15 billion since 2006.USPS cut its workforce by 193,000, or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail-processing locations.U.S. Senator Bob Corker expressed disappointment in the postal service’s decision to delay implementation of the five-day delivery plan.“I’m very disappointed the postal service has succumbed to Congressional pressure and is delaying implementation of a cost-saving five-day-delivery plan, and I fear that by continuing to hamstring the postal service, Congress is hastening its demise and probably adding additional financial burdens to U.S. taxpayers,” said Corker.The National Newspaper Association, however, voiced approval of the action.NNA president Merle Baranczyk, publisher of the Mountain Mail in Salida, Col., also warned NNA will oppose increases in postage rates at a time when closing mail- processing facilities are degrading newspaper delivery service nationwide.“The mission of the postal service is in its name: it is service,” said Baranczyk. “Without reliable service, no price is fair. NNA is working with the postal service to do all we can to help newspapers avoid the impacts of the system changes, but we need universal service for our communities and our newspapers.“We also believe the ultimate responsibility rests with Congress and we will continue our vigorous advocacy on behalf of community newspapers to pass important postal reform legislation,” he shared.

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