Residents support stopping Saturday mail delivery

The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it plans to stop the delivery of mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week come August.

That idea does not sit well with Georgia Congressman Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Albany.

However, some Columbus residents at the post office downtown Wednesday did not object to the move.

The reason for the change given by Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe is that last year the operation had a net loss of $15.9 billion. "Our financial condition is urgent," he said at a Washington, D.C., news conference.

Bishop, who represents the 2nd Congressional District which includes south Columbus, said in a statement released Wednesday: "While I understand the financial challenges currently facing the United States Postal Service and its need to reduce costs, many people rely on timely mail delivery in southwest and middle Georgia. The House of Representatives needs to pass a postal reform bill, much like the Senate did last Congress, so that the Postal Service can get their fiscal house in order and provide the mail service that all Americans require."

In Columbus, Adrine Bruce was asked if the change would affect him. "Not really," he said. "I'm not retired, and I am not expecting a check."

Bruce said if stopping delivery on Saturday would help to keep the Postal Service in business, he is for it.

"Let's keep people employed," Bruce said.

Jennifer Wellborn said she understands the need to do it for "survival and profitability."

She said that, at first, it might bother some people, but they will adjust.

"It will be a learning curve but in the end, everything will be fine," Wellborn said.

Cynthia Hollis said the change would not bother her either.

"Most of what I get in the mail is junk," she said.

Hollis said she uses e-mail more. Much of what she used the mail for, such as paying bills, she now does online.

The service expects the Saturday mail cutback to begin the week of Aug. 5 and to save about $2 billion annually, Donahoe said.

The move accentuates one of the agency's strong points -- package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.

Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages -- and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. An independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

Congress has included a ban on five-day delivery in its appropriations bill. But because the federal government is now operating under a temporary spending measure, rather than an appropriations bill, Donahoe says it's the agency's interpretation that it can make the change itself.

"This is not like a 'gotcha' or anything like that," he said. The agency is essentially asking Congress not to reimpose the ban when the spending measure expires on March 27 and he said he would work with Congress on the issue.

"The United States Postal Service may be acting outside of its legal authority if it suspends Saturday delivery as previous language in appropriations bills requires six-day mail," Bishop said. "It is vital that the USPS work with Congress to develop a plan that allows it to become more fiscally efficient while keeping the services that Americans rely upon."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.