Catch 22 for U.S. Postal Service
Hard-pressed to stave off bankruptcy, the U.S. Postal Service apparently will be able to go forward with plans to consolidate its mail processing centers. As a result, North Charleston’s postal facility will assume the workload of Savannah’s center, which will be closed.
Nationwide, 461 mail-processing centers will be eliminated, cutting USPS expenses by $1.2 billion.
But the Postal Service has been prohibited making more substantive cuts by Congress — which has routinely criticized the agency for not operating like a business.
The Postal Service had hoped to cut 3,700 small rural post offices and to curtail Saturday delivery. The plan would have cut billions in operating costs for the cash-strapped quasi-government agency.
But the Senate has said no to the post office closures and delayed the Saturday delivery cuts. It did, however, vote to allow the Postal Service to have access to $11 billion it overpaid into one of its pension funds, thereby easing its the fiscal strain.
The Postal Service’s Board of Governor’s responded to the hold on closures: “It is totally inappropriate in these economic times to keep unneeded facilities open.”
The proposal to close the small post offices raised an outcry from rural residents who view them as an essential community asset. They made their voices heard on the proposal and the Senate responded. The Republican-controlled House may not so willing to follow that lead.
No question, the small post offices are a convenience — and a significant expense.
Despite the perennial congressional scolding for the Postal Service to get its fiscal act together, the government-owned agency is limited by Congress in its response to market forces and budget difficulties. There has to be a better model to sustain the USPS, which provides essential services, despite email and private competition for parcel delivery.