By PAULINE JELINEK
WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ We could soon be seeing the end of Saturday mail delivery.
The Postal Service has announced plans to cut back to five-day-a-week deliveries for everything except packages to stem its financial losses in a world where the Internet has dramatically altered how we communicate and pay our bills.
"Our financial condition is urgent," Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe declared Wednesday.The way the Postal Service describes it, the move allows the service to change with the times in hopes of eventually operating in the black. But efforts by the service to make cutbacks before have been stymied by Congress. Some questions and answers about the Postal Service plan: ___ Q: What is the plan and when would it take effect? A: Beginning in early August, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open and delivery of packages of all sizes would continue six days a week. Packages have been a bright spot for the agency. Package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials said, while the delivery of letters and other mail has plummeted. ___ Q: Why has the Postal Service decided to cut back its delivery schedule? A: Money. The Postal Service suffered a $15.9 billion loss in the past budget year and has forecast more red ink in 2013. It says it expects to save $2 billion annually with the Saturday cutback. The Postal Service, an agency independent of government, does not receive tax money for its operations but is subject to congressional control over major aspects. The majority of the service's red ink comes from a 2006 law forcing it to pay about $5.5 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does. Without that payment â¿¿ $11.1 billion in a two-year installment last year â¿¿ and related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion for the past fiscal year, lower than the previous year.