Postal Service crisis may affect local mail
The U.S. Postal Service is facing a serious financial crisis that may affect delivery times of mail sent and received from Morgan County as well as the rest of the Eastern Panhandle.
The Postal Service is conducting what it calls an Area Mail Processing study to determine whether to shut down the Martinsburg mail distribution center and move those functions to Baltimore.
The affects of closing the Martinsburg distribution center were outlined during a public meeting on August 30 in Martinsburg.
First class mail affected
The good news, according to postal officials, is that first class mail to and from the Washington, D.C. metro area would be upgraded from 2-day delivery to overnight, and first class mail to and from parts of Boston, New England and Northern New York would be upgraded from 3-day delivery to 2-day delivery.
The bad news is that first class mail to and from parts of Northern Virginia and Baltimore would be downgraded from overnight to 2-day delivery while first class mail to parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indian would be downgraded from 2-day delivery to 3-day delivery.
Berkeley Springs Postmaster Ron Davis said, “I have gotten no information about changes here. I don’t see how closing Martinsburg will have any effect on Morgan County mail delivery. As far as I know it is just a proposal. Will it happen?
I don’t know. When it will happen? I don’t know.”
Davis said he has not received any information about possible post office closings in Morgan County.
Across the river in Maryland, Little Orleans and Big Pool Post Offices are on the list for possible closings.
More changes likely
Earlier this month, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told a U.S. Senate committee that without enactment of legislation by the end of September, the Postal Service faces default.
Funds will be insufficient to make a congressionally mandated $5.5 billion payment to pre-fund retiree health benefits, he said.
Donahoe estimated that the Postal Service could lose $10 billion this year.
Requests to Congress
In a statement last week, Donahoe said: “We must reduce our annual costs by $20 billion by 2015 to be profitable. We do not currently have the flexibility in our business model to achieve these cost reductions.”
To reach these goals, the Postal Service has asked Congress to allow it to stop Saturday mail delivery and to break its labor agreement with employees, which includes a no layoff clause, so it can begin to layoff workers.
In addition, postal officials want to withdraw about 480,000 retirees and 600,000 workers from the federal employee health benefits program and create their own health program.
Studies are being conducted on whether to close 3,600 post offices and 252 distribution centers across the country.
According to the presentation made in Martinsburg, the Postal Service has suffered a 42% decline in first class mail since 2001. First class mail is by far the bulk of the mail handled by the postal system.
Postal officials blame the decline on the increased impact of electronic communications, the national recession and the restrictive Post Office business model.