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Proposals to Save Sat. Mail Delivery: Customers Weigh In

Posted at: 02/15/2013 4:33 PM
Updated at: 02/15/2013 5:12 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

Federal lawmakers are exploring new ideas to keep the mail coming on Saturdays. But are customers interested?

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, is co-sponsoring legislation allowing post offices to provide more services like issuing hunting and fishing licenses. 

"It would create new revenue," said Zackery Braack, a post office customer. "It would bring more business to the post office."

Cory Garden, another customer, said "I think it is if it helps then yeah absolutely."

And customer Bob Hampton said "any money that the post office can make we need it."

The idea was popular at the main branch of the Duluth post office Friday afternoon. It is designed to slow the loss of money the U.S. Postal Service says totals $26 million each day.

Speaking to a Senate committee Wednesday, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said "last year the Postal Service recorded a loss of $15.9 billion."

How much money the license sales proposal could bring in isn't clear. Sen. Franken's office told Eyewitness News that depends on how many post offices decide to offer the service.

While most customers praised the idea of selling hunting and fishing licenses at the post office, customer Max Taubert was skeptical. "I think it might be a little too much for them [employees] to handle unless they revise how they man the counter."

Taubert said the post office seems stressed out enough now handling the business they already have.

Meanwhile, Sen. Franken said the legislation would also allow post offices to notarize documents, and allow shipments of wine and beer, all of which aren't allowed now. A news release from his office says legislation would clear the way for the Postal Service to help customers take advantage of email and internet services and create a commission to make recommendations on other ways the agency could generate new revenue and thrive in the 21st century.

The legislation, according to Sen. Franken, would address 80 percent of the Postal Service's financial problems, modernize the agency and preserve Saturday mail delivery.

Garden said "for my business it is huge. We expect it for my business and other businesses probably look for that."

The Postal Service couldn't comment on the specific proposals, but calls the Senators' efforts encouraging. Agency Spokesman Peter Nowacki said "one of the things we are looking for in any postal reform is freedom to adapt to changes in the market place to be able to be able to roll out new products and new services in a quicker time frame."

Cuts to Saturday mail delivery are expected to take effect in early August, but Sen. Franken has signed on to a letter asking the Postal Service to delay that plan's implementation until Congress can pass a postal reform bill.