Local businesses discuss impact of postal cuts

PARKERSBURG – With the announcement the U.S. Postal Service will be cutting Saturday mail delivery, business leaders discuss its impact on the area.

The Postal Service expects to end Saturday mail delivery the week of Aug. 5 to save about $2 billion annually. Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses 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.

The Postal Service has been operating at a deficit for years, prompting officials to look at ways to cut costs, including eliminating Saturday delivery, closing facilities, such as the mail-sorting facility in Parkersburg, and closing rural post offices.

Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley President/CEO Jill Parsons said the USPS, like other businesses, must continue to innovate, streamline and become more efficient, especially in light of continued years of multimillion dollar losses.

”It’s simple business financial management – a combination of cutting expenses and/or increasing revenues,” she said.

”With the use of email and other forms of instant communication, the days of a mailbox full of letters are, pardon the pun, gone like the Pony Express,” Parsons said. ”So the next avenue is to cut expenses and ending Saturday mail delivery is an option they are proposing.

”Sadly, I do not think that ending Saturday mail delivery will be the final solution to the financial trauma the postal service is facing,” she said.

Robin Graham, supervisor for the Mail Plus division at SW Resources, said she did not believe the change will affect its bulk-mailing operations. Mail Plus puts together bulk mailings for clients.

Mail Plus does its work during the week between Monday and Friday. It takes mailings directly to the Post Office.

”Their bulk-mailing department is open Monday to Friday,” Graham said. ”Their hours are the same as ours.

”It won’t hinder our mail procedures.”

Christina Smith, executive director of The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley, said the change in mail delivery is not expected to impact the day-to-day operations of The Arc, but she has been hearing concerns from people who rely on mail service to get medications delivered to their homes.

”This is the biggest concern for a lot of people who don’t have any other options for transportation and who rely on home delivery,” she said.

Smith said plans people are on have a tight refill schedule.

”Plans are so specific, they don’t allow for overlapping,” Smith said. ”People could be without medications for a weekend.”

Postal Service spokesman Cathy Yarosky said information is expected to be released today from the U.S. Postal Service on what will constitute a “package” for delivery on Saturdays.

The needs of customers, especially in many rural areas, is being considered, she said.

The new schedule was made six months from implementation to allow people and companies to make adjustments in their processes, so they don’t go without items such as medications, she said.

For businesses that operate on Saturdays and expect receiving/sending mail on that business day, the end of Saturday mail delivery will be an adjustment, Parsons said.

The change is expected to take place in August, pending congressional approval, so there will be six months for businesses to make alternate arrangements.

”The announcement that package delivery will not be impacted on Saturdays is one benefit to businesses that ship/receive on Saturdays,” Parsons said. ”Our chamber has several members that operate on Saturdays, such as retail establishments, manufacturing, hospitality, restaurants and banking, to name a few.

”None of the members that I spoke with today are overly concerned about the impact to their business with the announcement that Saturday mail delivery may cease in August. One noted a possible delay of processing invoices and payments, but that this would be made up during the work week,” Parsons said.