We could soon be seeing the end of Saturday mail delivery.
The Postal Service has announced plans to cut back to five-day-a-week deliveries for everything except packages to stem its financial losses in a world where the internet has dramatically altered how we communicate and pay our bills.
The agency says it has to do it to survive financially, but some small businesses especially don't like the idea.
The Postal Service suffered a $15.9 billion loss in the past budget year and has forecast more red ink in 2013. It says it expects to save $2 billion annually with the Saturday cutback.
The Postal Service, an agency independent of government, does not receive tax money for its operations but is subject to Congressional control over major aspects.
However, there is one major catch. It also means mailboxes will be empty another full day per week.
Efforts by the service to make cutbacks before have been stymied by Congress.
"Our financial condition is urgent," Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe declared Wednesday.
It was a stunning announcement for local postal workers like Christopher Coates.
"I was shocked. I could not believe it," said Coates, who has been delivering mail along Prospect Avenue for nine years.
Coates is worried about the loss of overtime. He understands something needs to be done, but says the real problem is labor contracts that are weighing down the agency.
"A lot of what's wrong with the Post Office is because they've had to pre-fund a retirement program. A lot of the rules and regulations won't allow them to do what's needed to save the company," Coates said.
And then there's the impact on small business owners.
"My first instinct was like uh-oh," said Delana Stout, who owns a Brookside pet store.
Stout is about to launch an online store and has already signed a contract with the Postal Service.
For now the cut in service only affects stamped mail. Packages will still be delivered, but Stout is worried that could change also.
"It's very important because it's a less expensive way to ship, and we don't have to pass those prices on to the consumer," she said.
But for now, Stout says she'll concentrate on the things she can control, like some dog treats which she hopes canines all across the country will enjoy when the website launches.
Beginning in early August, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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