Across America

Jun 28, 2011 12:30 PM by Kay Rossi (Great Falls)

Proposed post office changes could eliminate Saturday service

Continued declines in business have forced the U.S. Postal Service to implement a number of cost saving measures over the last four years, including consolidated mail routes and more automated mail sorting.

The most recent proposed cuts could affect mail patrons across the country.

Cost saving measures in proposed federal legislation would make multiple changes.

Those changes include eliminating Saturday service, changing the law so the postal service will not have to pre-pay for employee's health retirement benefits, and refunding over-payments on pension funds.

The postal service could save an estimated $3 billion per year by cutting Saturdays and an additional $5.5 billion by changing health benefit laws.

USPS Western Area Spokesperson Al DeSarro said, "It's absolutely a critical stage. We badly need this legislation and we really need Congress to help pass it."

The postal service is not supported by taxes, but by revenue generated from postage, products and services.

An increase in fuel costs and a decline in customers has created a major shortfall in funding.

The postal service predicts an $8-billion dollar deficit this year and declines will continue into the future.

One of the biggest changes for patrons would be the end to Saturday services.

Desarro says national polls show 70% of Americans view this change as the best cost saving step for the USPS.

Some Great Falls residents weighed in about the possibility of losing Saturday service.

Joy Simpson said, "The Pony Express used to deliver mail in rain, sleet, snow and hail and I just really think that getting mail on Saturdays is really important."

Arlene Reichert said, "I really don't have a strong feeling either way because I'm retired but i know its important to a lot of people though. It would just depend on the need of Saturday delivery."

"Residents of Great Falls come down to the Post Office and expect to get their mail so on that aspect I would say they shouldn't take away the Saturdays. Some people just like to get their mail," said David Anderson.

The postal service has sent letters to Montana Congressmen Denny Rehberg and Jon Tester asking for their support of the legislation.

If passed, DeSarro says the changes could be implemented within six months.