U.S. Postal Service Tackles Budget Problems
COLUMBIA - The United States Postal Service is edging closer to the end of its fiscal year, on September 30, 2011. The agency faces a $5.5 billion bill due at the end of the month. If Congress does not intervene, the postal service will default and potentially shutdown this winter.
Thomas R. Carper, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the postal service told the New York Times, "If we do nothing, if we don't react in a smart, appropriate way, the postal service could literally close later this year. That's not the kind of development we need to inject into a weak, uneven economic recovery."
Valerie Welsch, spokesperson for the postal service's St. Louis District, told KOMU 8 that the agency is reviewing 153 local offices in Missouri to potentially close. Officials do not plan on closing any Missouri offices before December.
Welsch also told KOMU 8 there has been a 20 percent decrease in first-class mail volume during the past five years in Missouri. The increase in online users weighs heavily on an agency that gets no taxpayer funding. The postal services only generates income through services and products.
Welsch said she does not see the postal service shutting down, but it does need Congress to step in and intervene. The postal service is asking Congress for a refund of overpayments to the employee retirement fund, to stop Saturday deliveries, and give the postal service more flexibility to remain competitive.
President of Midway Electric in Columbia, Michele Spry, said the business completes 75 percent of its transactions through the post office. Spry said many of her clients do not have email or Internet access. If the post office shutdown, Spry would have to dramatically alter her business.
" I mail out all of our invoicing, I use it to send thank you cards, greeting cards, and birthday cards," said Spry.
Some business owners also worry eliminating the postal service could hurt relationships with their customers.
"When you open your mailbox and you have a handwritten note, it's a different feel than just an email," said Spry.