The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Featured Story

July 24, 2013

USPS eyeing big changes

WASHINGTON — Americans for generations have come to depend on door-to-door mail delivery. It’s about as American as apple pie.

But with the Postal Service facing billions of dollars in annual losses, the delivery service could virtually be phased out by 2022, under a proposal a House panel was considering Wednesday. Curbside delivery, which includes deliveries to mailboxes at the end of driveways, and cluster box delivery would replace letter carriers slipping mail into front-door boxes.

The proposal is part of broader legislation by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, designed to cut costs at the cash-strapped agency by up to $4.5 billion a year. The Postal Service had a $16 billion loss last year.

The agency has been moving toward curbside and cluster box delivery in new residential developments since the 1970s. The Postal Service in April began deciding whether to provide such delivery for people moving into newly built homes, rather than letting the developers decide.

“A balanced approach to saving the Postal Service means allowing USPS to adapt to America’s changing use of mail,” Issa said. “Done right, these reforms can improve the customer experience through a more efficient Postal Service.”

About one in three mail customers has door-to-door delivery, Issa said. The shift would include safe and secure cluster box delivery areas, he said, especially for elderly customers who receive Social Security checks and prescriptions through the mail.

About 30 million residential addresses receive delivery to boxes at the door or a mail slot. Another 87 million residential addresses receive curbside or cluster box delivery.

The cost differences are clear. Curbside delivery costs average $224 per year for each address, while cluster box delivery averages $160. Door-to-door delivery costs the agency about $350 per year, on average.

Bert Mackie, an Enid resident and former member of the Postal Service Board of Governors, said stopping door-to-door delivery should be a last resort.

“They need to do everything they can to cut costs, but I hesitate to see them do away with door-to-door service. I even doubt doing away with Saturday service would cut any costs,” Mackie said.

Mackie acknowledged he left the board of governors in 1989, and things could be different now. However, he said when he was a member of the board, the Postal Service was “in the black.” At that time, the board discussed stopping Saturday service and determined it would not save money. Extra costs would come from stacking mail on weekends and overtime to deal with it during the coming week.

“They are nearly totally automated now and that could have changed,” Mackie said.

However, he said he was not surprised at Wednesday’s announcement, because he knows the Postal Service is in financial trouble. However, Mackie said much of the trouble is due to Congress asking the Postal Service to make up its pension deficit in a short time. He thinks the amount of time for the payment should be increased.

“Congress needs to stretch it over a number of years. No business could catch up with a deficit in such a short time,” he said.

Sue Brennan, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said, “While converting delivery away from the door-to-curb or centralized delivery would allow the Postal Service to deliver mail to more addresses in less time, doing so is not included in our five-year plan.”

Brennan said the agency’s five-year plan does call for shifting 20 percent of business address deliveries from door-to-door to curbside and cluster box delivery through 2016.

Rep. Steve Lynch, D-Mass., said the plan to move some 30 million residential addresses from to-the-door to curbside and cluster box service would be impossible in dense urban areas such as his hometown of South Boston, crowded with triple-deckers — three apartments stacked on top of each other.

“You’d have to knock houses down in my neighborhood to build cluster boxes,” Lynch said. “This will not work.”

It might work in places like Manhattan with big apartment buildings, he said.

“Look, there’s no availability for cluster boxes in many communities around the country,” Lynch said.

Issa’s plan allows for people with physical hardships to get waivers allowing them to keep door delivery. There’s also a provision giving people the option to keep door delivery by paying a special fee to cover the additional cost.

Issa’s bill also allows the Postal Service to take into account factors such as poverty rates and population density in deciding which areas would be allowed to keep door delivery.

The financially beleaguered Postal Service, an independent agency, gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations, but is subject to congressional control.

The Postal Service is pursuing a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has reduced annual costs by about $15 billion, cut its workforce by 193,000 or 28 percent, and consolidated more than 200 mail-processing locations.

The service’s losses largely are due to a decline in mail volume and a congressional requirement it make advance payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. About $11.1 billion of last year’s losses were due to payments for future retiree health costs.

The Postal Service is considering several options to fix its finances, including negotiations with unions to reduce labor costs and another possible increase in prices.

Staff Writer Robert Barron contributed to this Associated Press story.

1
Text Only
Featured Story
  • storm_W.jpg Storm victims face dilemma: accept loans or reject them

    The tornadoes, flooding and hail that struck Oklahoma last year left hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, causing many home and business owners to seek help in the form of low-interest federal loans.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • Quilts_4_BH_W.jpg History of an art form

    Woven amongst the fabric, patterns and stitches in the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center’s newest special exhibit are stories of past generations.

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • Academy.jpg State prisons expand their reach to train new officers

    On a recent day, a class in the McAlester program was filled with the sounds of bodies thudding onto thick, rainbow-colored pads held together by duct tape, along with heavy breathing and tapping as cadets indicated they’d successfully been subdued.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • FortStillFacility.jpg FBI: No arrests yet in scam targeting migrant kids

    Con artists use private information about the children to contact their family members and demand payment for bogus processing and travel expenses needed to reunite the kids with their relatives. Families with migrants in Texas and Oklahoma have been targeted.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • Child Tax Credit_Hass.jpg House votes to boost child tax credit for some

    With nearly all Republicans voting in favor and most Democrats opposed, the bill cleared the House by a vote of 237-173. The White House threatened to veto the bill, though the Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to pass it.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Oil-Covered Owls_1_JN.jpg Caretaker: One of 2 oil-covered owls has died

    Jean Neal and her husband, Jim, of Fairview, have been caring for the owls since Tuesday, July 22, 2014, when they received them from Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which is investigating the incident and the death of several other birds found at a neglected oil field tank site.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Virginia Storm_Hass.jpg 2 dead, dozens hurt after storm at Va. campground

    "All hell broke loose. We got an emergency message on a cellphone and within 30 seconds, the thing hit and it blew down 40, 50 trees in the park." — Joe Colony, who has been coming to the campground for 30 years

    July 24, 2014 7 Photos

  • money.jpg Affordable Care Act 80/20 rule will provide refunds to many Oklahomans

    According to Alex Kotran, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Oklahoma residents will get $6.7 million in refunds from health insurance companies this summer.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oil Drilling Earthqua_Hass.jpg Oil company geologist to talk Okla. earthquakes

    Continental Resources' Vice President of Geology Glen Brown will deliver a luncheon address Wednesday to members of the Oklahoma Geological Society.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Disaster 4117 - Logo.jpg Cities, states scramble to spend grant money

    More than half of the federal disaster funds being offered to Oklahoma for recovery from the violent storms of 2013 are in the form of community development grants.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

Featured Ads
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
NDN Video
GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1" Trailer is Here! Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
House Ads
Facebook