A Better Way to Save the Postal Service Money?

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Right now, the US Postal Service faces a $9 billion dollar budget deficit. To close that gap, USPS management and congressional subcommittees are calling for the elimination of rural post offices and cutting six days of mail service to five. 

But North Country Congressman Bill Owens (D-23rd District) says that plan just won't work.

"It's a maximum one percent of the postal budget, so this would virtually have no impact on the Post Offices' bringing itself into a profitable position," Owens said.

That's what Owens, along with 101 of his colleagues in Congress, said in a letter to House leaders. It isn't rural post offices or an extra day of mail that's causing the Postal Service's woes.  It's a requirement in the 2006 Postal  Accountability and Enhancement Act. 

The law forces the Postal Service to pre-pay its retirement health benefits 75 years into the future - something no private company or even government agency is required to do.

The head of the Letter Carriers Union in Rochester agrees that the law is the problem.

"That is to say an employee - a child born 20 years from now, who will hopefully retire in 35 years - we have to pay for their health benefits for when they retire today," Ken Montgomery told 7 News in February. (Click here to see that story.)

That requirement adds up to a $5.5 billion annual payment.

Owens is hopeful that if the postal service is allowed to change the way it funds retiree benefits, it will be on a much better path towards climbing out of the red.

"You'd cut the deficit in half, number one. Number two, they have to go out and they have to look for other sources of revenue," he said.

But, even if the restructuring of the Postal Service's retirement benefits requirements is successful, it may still face an uphill battle.

Mail volume has dropped by 25 percent since 2006.
 

Sunday, November 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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