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Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
10:48 PM Tue, Jan. 15th

Letter: USPS's losses rely on false premise

Your news report on the awarding of a new contract for Kingman's historic downtown post office, which had been slated to close, marks a victory for local residents, businesses and political leaders. At the same time, the story merits some broader context.

Besides shuttering numerous post offices around the country, the Postal Service also wants to end Saturday mail delivery and door-to-door delivery - meaning Kingman's small businesses wouldn't receive checks and orders on weekends, and residents would traipse daily around neighborhoods in Arizona weather seeking cluster boxes.

And the Postal Service has been pushing to close dozens of mail-processing plants, which would slow the mail.

But these degradations of service rest on the false premise that the Postal Service is losing money delivering the mail. In fact, with letter revenue stabilizing as the economy improves and package revenue skyrocketing as folks in Kingman and Bullhead City and elsewhere shop online, operating profits are growing.

Fiscal Year 2014's $1.4 billion operating profit already has been surpassed halfway through fiscal 2015.

Postal red ink stems not from the mail but from Washington politics.

In 2006, a lame-duck Congress mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits. No other agency or company has to pre-fund for even one year; the Postal Service must pre-fund 75 years into the future and pay for it all over a decade. That $5.6 billion annual charge is the red ink.

Instead of addressing the actual problem, some in Washington are targeting services that residents and business owners in Arizona and across the nation rely on.

But degrading networks that have returned to profitability is counterproductive.

Postal finances would take a hit, as mail - and revenue - is driven away. And the Grand Canyon State would lose jobs. The national mailing industry, reliant on a robust, six-days-a-week Postal Service, employs 7.5 million Americans - including 136,987 Arizonans.

Arizonans should urge their congressional representatives to preserve the now-profitable postal networks while addressing the pre-funding fiasco. Then the Postal Service - based in the Constitution and the largest employer of military veterans - can continue to offer Americans the world's most-affordable delivery network.

Fredric Rolando

president, National Association of Letter Carriers