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Mail on Saturday may stop
Postal Service looking for way to trim costs
MAIL truck for JS JD
A mail truck leaves the Cumming Post Office on Tuesday morning. - photo by Jim Dean
As evidenced this week, they’ll deliver through sleet and snow. But Saturdays, maybe not.

After reporting net losses annually since 2007, the U.S. Postal Service has outlined steps to trim costs, including cutting Saturday deliveries.

For the Cumming postal service branch, which has seen an 18 percent drop in revenue over the past year, “it would really be a large saving,” said Postmaster Ann Berger.

According to the plan, titled “Ensuring a Viable Postal Service for America: An Action Plan for the Future,” eliminating Saturday deliveries could save about $3 billion annually.

About 66 percent of Americans surveyed would prefer a five-day delivery system instead of using taxpayer dollars or other options to fill the gap.

“My personal opinion would be that most people don’t care about a Saturday delivery,” Berger said.

Eliminating Saturday deliveries wouldn’t bother Ramon Vega, who subscribes to Netflix, a movie rental firm that uses the postal service for rentals and returns.

“With Netflix, if I don’t get the movie through the mail, I can just watch them online,” he said.

Jon Heard, director of Cumming Utilities, said the number of people paying by their utility bills by mail has gradually declined.

“We do still have some utility bills that come in through the U.S. mail,” he said. “But we have a very large portion of our customers that pay online, and then we have a smaller portion of folks who come in and actually pay their bill right here in City Hall.

“On Monday, we could have an overflow of mail we’d have to deal with and that might be a slight issue, but I don’t think we’ll have a problem adjusting to a new schedule.”

In addition to stopping Saturday deliveries, the postal service’s plan also calls for a shift in pricing and altering the method by which health benefits are paid to retirees.

It also would expand products, services and flexibility to align pricing with demand.

In Cumming, Mondays are the most popular mail days. They’re followed by Fridays, Berger said.

She said cutting Saturdays would have the least impact on businesses like banks and others that close or have limited hours on that day.

About 45,000 businesses and homes receive mail from the 86 carriers who deliver an average of 150,000 pieces of mail a day from the Cumming branch.

The new plan, most of which needs the approval of U.S. Congress, would lead to cutbacks in staff at all branches, including Cumming.

“They’re trying to do it right now with offering incentives and early retirements ... and not replacing when people retire,” Berger said.

About 300,000 postal workers are expected to retire by 2020.

To fill the void left by the smaller work force, the plan also calls for more consumer options, like more online options and adding more self-service mail kiosks, which Berger said is “like having a 24-hour employee.”

“It’s really helpful during busy peak times,” she said. “It takes credit and debit [cards], it’s very user friendly and you can take care of your mailing needs on a Sunday.”