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USPS keeps Saturday mail service

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Apr 10 2013 10:33:37 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The U.S. Postal Service announced today it will not stop Saturday service in August after all.

Congress passed a spending bill prohibiting USPS from reducing delivery days without congressional approval.

NBC Montana visited one post office in Missoula and talked to resident Beth Taylor-Wilson who recently moved from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 

“I came from a community where there was no postal delivery service,” said Taylor-Wilson.  “I lived there for 35 years and I just got used to using a postal box.”

Wilson says with the national debt adding up she is in support of cutting services.

“It wouldn't be a problem for me because I actually only get by my box maybe four times a week,” she said.  “I don't find it a hardship at all, it's kind of a social thing and you run into friends.”  

University of Montana student Ryan Murphy thinks cutting Saturday service would hurt rural communities.

“It's a huge inconvenience to everyone going down to five days a week versus six,” said Murphy.  “Especially if it's coming from a long ways away and it just takes so much time especially for rural areas.”

Montana Senator Jon Tester is pleased the service will run as usual, stating:

"I am pleased to see that the Postal Service now understands its plan to reduce mail delivery violated the law.  Rural America depends on reliable and efficient mail delivery, which is why Congress has required 6-day mail.  Reducing delivery, blindly cutting services and closing post offices without examining how those decisions affect rural communities is irresponsible and will hurt the Postal Service’s bottom line.  Preserving Saturday delivery is a step in the right direction, but we still have more work to do to put the Postal Service on sound financial footing.”

But there's more to the story.

“It has a lot to do with the fact that they had to prepay all the pensions in a very short amount of time,” said Taylor-Wilson.   

In 2006 a Congressional mandate required the Postal Service to prepay healthcare benefits for all its employees.

“That forced them to have to spend a lot of their, what would have been, normal operating expenses trying to prepay their pensions for people,” said Taylor-Wilson.

According to the U.S. Treasury in 2012 USPS reported a $16 billion total loss.

Murphy fears that's linked to the national debt and he's worried.

“It's a huge concern to me because as I grow up it's going to be my problem and it's going to be my kids’ problem and my kids' kids’ problem,” said Murphy.  “It’s just so massive at this point it’s like what do we do?”

Now that six-day service is staying the post office board says it will look at price increases and reducing workforce.