Auburn braces for Saturday mail stoppage

Postal Service targets Aug. 5 as first Saturday without deliveries
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Money woes – not sleet, rain or snow – have canceled Auburn’s Saturday mail delivery service.

Auburn will join the rest of the country in a move to five-day-a-week deliveries from six, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday. The move by the cash-strapped postal service is expected to start Aug. 5 and save $2 billion annually.

A regional postal service spokesman said Wednesday that more local information will be provided as the Saturday shutdown date moves closer, but that post office boxes will remain available at offices currently open Saturdays like Auburn’s Nevada Street location.

Ralph Petty, the Sacramento post office customer relations spokesman, said that mail would continue to be delivered to homes and businesses – either at centralized delivery points in neighborhoods or individual addresses – Mondays through Fridays.

But deliveries would be halted on Saturdays, he said.

“Sure, there are going to be adjustments, including businesses getting out information about weekend sales,” Petty said. “This is designed to save the post office $2 billion. We want to remain viable.”

Petty said that a Postal Service survey indicates seven in 10 people support a reduction in costs through canceling Saturday deliveries.

Post office jobs should be safe because of the collective bargaining agreement now in place, Petty said. Instead, the plan will depend on moving workers to other jobs, retirement and natural attrition.

Rented post boxes will continue to get deliveries on Saturday, Petty said. While the ramifications of the delivery shutdown were still unknown at Auburn’s Station A post office in Old Town – established in the 1850s – it’s possible that there will be increased demand for post boxes there, said the location’s Patricia Sparks.

The historic postal station has about 30 of its 160 boxes still available for rental and is open Saturdays. The cost for a small box is $54 a year.

“It’s not busy on Saturdays – depending on the time of year and weather, Mondays seem to be our busiest days,” Sparks said. “But I’m sure if you’re waiting for a check, it would be convenient to have it delivered Saturday.”

Glen Cleveland, an Auburn resident since the late 1950s, said that his neighborhood carrier just retired after 32 years. The loss of Saturday deliveries will have a small impact.

“It’s nice to get Saturday delivery but I don’t see it (a noticeable effect),” Cleveland said. “If you can’t learn to live with a little change like that, you’re hidebound. It still beats the Pony Express.”

The Associated Press reported that the Postal Service is in the middle of a major restructuring throughout its retail, delivery and mail processing operations. Since 2006, it has cut annual costs by about $15 billion, reduced the size of its career workforce by 193,000 or by 28 percent, and has consolidated more than 200 mail processing locations, officials say.

The agency in November reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion for the last budget year and forecast more red ink in 2013.

Linda Robinson, owner of Old Town Auburn’s Sun River Clothing Co., said that she believes America and Auburn will adjust.

“If this is really going to happen, people will get the hang of it and work their schedules around it,” Robinson said. “People get used to things. Look at high gas prices – even though people don’t like them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.