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Postal carrier Joe Jeppson delivers mail to La Salle residents Wednesday afternoon. The U.S. Postal Service announced that morning its plans to stop delivering and collecting letters and other first-class mail Saturdays, beginning Aug. 5.
The U.S. Postal Service announcement on Wednesday of ending its Saturday delivery of first class mail in August to save the organization $2 billon drew mixed reaction locally. The USPS plans to end letter delivery to residents and business on Saturday but still deliver packages, medications and priority mail. The post offices that were open Saturdays will continue to be so and post office boxes will continue to get services on Saturday. “I think our residents will be devastated,” said Michelle Sommer, marketing director at Liberty Village of Peru. “They look forward to their mail.” Raymond Weber, a certified public accountant in Peru, said his customers might feel the effects during tax season, but his business will not suffer. “I have a post office box so I can still pick that up,” said Weber. “It might be a little adjustment, but I don’t think there will be any practical impact,” said Leigh Morris, a spokesman for Ameren Illinois. Morris said that Ameren offers customers electronic billing with the option to mail in a payment or pay online. He said he thinks the Postal Service’s change will cause more companies to head this route. He added it gives customers the option to receive their bills earlier and have more time to pay. Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, told The Associated Press that the end of Saturday mail delivery is “a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers,” particularly businesses, rural communities, the elderly, the disabled and others who depend on Saturday delivery for commerce and communication. Beverly Howard, the coordinator for the corporate communications at USPS’s Central Illinois District, said the post office has seen a decline in first class mail volume and is making these changes to stay consistent with revenue. Howard said they have been surveying customers about the change and only recieved concerns about receiving packages from online orders and medication on Saturdays and decided to continue those services. The press release from USPS said that 70 percent of American who participated in the survey agreed with the changes if it saved the post office money. The changes are not scheduled to take place until early August which Howard said gives customers six months to prepare for the adjustments. “We will continue to reach out and talk to our business partners and customers to make sure the transition goes smoothly,” said Howard. Morris said Ameren would look at the impact the mail delivery change may have on its customers and make adjustments if needed. He is reminding people to give payments adequate time and if they think they will be late and don’t want to pay online there are payment locations inside local businesses listed on their website, www.amerenillinois.com, that might be open on Saturday. The Postal Service said in a press release it has been implementing major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations and since 2006, reduced its annual cost base by approximately $15 billion, lowered the size of its career workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent and consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations. The AP said USPS in November reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year which was more that triple the previous year’s report of a $5.1 billion loss. USPS is required by Congress since 2006 to set aside $55 billion in an account to cover future medical costs for retirees. The idea was to put $5.5 billion a year, money the post office doesn’t have, into the account for 10 years, said The AP. “The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America’s changing mailing habits,” said Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General and CEO in the press release. The Postal Service said in its press release that it receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. It continues to seek legislation to provide it with greater flexibility to control costs and generate new revenue and encourages the 113th Congress to make postal reform legislation an urgent priority. Though the Postal Service is an independent agency, it is subject to congressional control and it was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval, said The AP.
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