The U.S. Postal Service last week announced it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays in an effort to curtail losses it has seen in recent years.
The changes, set to begin Aug. 5, should save the agency $2 billion annually at a time when the Postal Service lost $15.9 billion in the last fiscal year, according to a statement by Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe posted on the agency's website.
Congress has stunted attempts to change the delivery process in the past, and this time lawmakers in Washington confronted this decision with opposition as soon as it was announced.
These changes would end the delivery of all mail except packages and Express Mail in August. A recent increase in package delivery and hopeful projections helped the Postal Service decide to maintain the delivery of packages on Saturdays, according to Andrea Burrows, communications programs specialist for the Postal Service
The Postal Service recently raised the price of first-class stamps to 46 cents to help raise revenue, in addition to the new delivery decisions.
The effects of this change could also been seen locally as people and businesses will have to change the way they operate. Some businesses are dependent on Saturday mail and need the deliveries to run their shop.
"When we are on payroll time and we are looking for that check to show up Saturday, and if it doesn't show up, that will not be advantageous for us," said Roy Kwan, owner of Clinical Pharmacy Associates, on Talbott Avenue "For small business, the Saturday receipt of payments is an important delivery day for us still."
The Postal Service announced the change in policy six months in advance in order to eliminate some of the transitional problems — giving people time to plan and adjust, according to Burrows.
"The Postal Service will work with customers to help them adjust to these changes and encourage them to enter their mail into the system earlier," said Burrows. "Where a target in-home date might have been Friday/Saturday before, the schedule might need to be moved up to Thursday/Friday delivery."
One thing to be considered during this transition is not only the effect it has on the general public, but also how it could affect employees.
"We are currently working to define the employee impact and will be meeting with our union and management associations to discuss the employee impact in accordance with our collective bargaining agreements and other obligations," said Burrows.
A congressional mandate to set aside more than $5 billion a year for health-care expenses, along with the decline of business, was the major reason for the most recent budget loss, according to the Postal Service.
But in Laurel, Kwan feels that the health-care policy is what needs to be fixed rather than eliminating the collection and delivery of mail on Saturdays.
"I think it will generate savings, but given the burden that Congress placed with the pension plan, it isn't going to be completely effective," said Kwan. "We are shutting doors and laying off people in a time when that really isn't appropriate."
The Postal Service made this decision to help bail the agency out of financial trouble, but some question whether it will really help and doubt it is the real problem.
"It will help with short-term savings, but in the long run, I think it is a bad idea," said Kwan.
Laurel resident John Matochik doesn't approve of the change, but he also isn't drastically affected by it in a way that would change his lifestyle greatly.
"I would prefer they wouldn't stop mail on Saturdays," said Matochik. "I still think there is a heavy dependence on mail, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if they stop it."
Doug Miller is a journalism student at the University of Maryland.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun