Many see little impact from ending Saturday mail delivery
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · February 15, 2013

The US Postal Service’s decision to end Saturday mail delivery on Aug. 10 will affect about 1,400 customers in the West Branch area.

The announcement came Feb. 6. Package delivery, which is increasing for the post office, will continue on Saturdays, and the West Branch post office will continue to be open from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays, Postmistress Jeri Holbrook said. Also, customers with P.O. boxes will continue to get mail.

“There will be no changes here,” she said of the downtown location. “Our window will be open.”

Holbrook said window customers have told her that they will not be inconvenienced by the change.

“Everybody is positive about it,” she said.

The post office reports the change will save about $2 billion a year.

Wayne Frauenholtz, a mail carrier, said he is “not totally against it.”

However, it will take significant reorganization of the carriers’ routes to absorb Saturday sorting and delivery into Monday, making each Monday feel like the day after a holiday.

Frauenholtz said carriers are paid by a formula that includes the number of customers they serve, mileage — which is paid at 72 cents per mile — and the average amount of mail delivered to each customer.

He said West Branch has two full-time routes and one auxiliary route. But moving more mail to Monday through Friday may bump up the part-time route to full time with benefits.

“We’re still in the dark about that,” he said.

Ken Perry, who lives north of the city, said he understands the USPS’ reason for needing to cut costs because of Congress mandating it pay retirement benefits in advance.

“Not personally,” he said of if the change would affect him. “I’m a long way from those days.”

He said he could see some families for which a Social Security check or paycheck delivered Saturday would be used right away, but his family could always make do until Monday.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, issued a statement Feb. 6, saying Congress’ mandate will cost the USPS $50 billion over 10 years, and that pre-paying benefits put the agency in “dire straits.”

He calls on the House leadership to pass House Resolution 30, a bill that would relieve the USPS of the mandate and allow Saturday mail delivery to continue.

Ken Sagar, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, called the end of Saturday delivery “regrettable,” and stated Congress created a “political crisis” for the USPS because the benefits project 75 years into the future.

“The requirement is costing the post office billions of dollars to fund and the employees have neither been hired nor, in some cases, even born yet,” he said in a statement.

West Branch Community Schools may need to bump up deadlines for sending out notices to parents, Superintendent Kevin Hatfield said, especially for weekend activities. However, he thinks this is a minor inconvenience since the school offices are closed Saturdays.

Cheryl Mercer, administrator at Crestview Nursing and Rehab, said some newspapers and cards would be delayed, but “I don’t know if it would be a big deal.”

Liberty Communications Manager Jerry Melick said the post office change “is not high on our radar.” Most of their customers have signed up for e-Bill automatic payments, but it could inconvenience customers when bills show up a couple of days later.

Holbrook said anyone wishing to still get mail on Saturday is invited to rent a post office box.

“There are plenty of P.O. boxes available for six-day delivery,” she said.

US Bank Branch Manager Marcia “Dee Dee” Wombacher said that Friday transactions are not processed until Mondays already, so she does not anticipate problems.

“But when I was how much it would save the post office, I was like, ‘Wow,’” she said.

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