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USPS Saturday mail delivery is sticking around, for now

USPS Saturday mail: The Postal Service has given up on trying to get rid of Saturday mail delivery as one way to help control runaway costs at the government agency. So, USPS Saturday mail will continue coming to your home or business, for the time being.

By Pauline JelinekAssociated Press / April 10, 2013

USPS Saturday mail: In this Februrary file photo, US Postal Service letter carrier Michael McDonald gathers mail to load into his truck before making his delivery run in the East Atlanta neighborhood, in Atlanta.

David Goldman/AP/File

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Washington

The beleaguered US Postal Service backed down from its cost-saving plan to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, acknowledging that Congress barred a move that supporters said was essential to addressing the agency's dire financial condition.

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Despite the retreat, the governing board said Wednesday that it's not possible for the Postal Service to meet its goals for reduced spending without altering the delivery schedule. Delaying "responsible changes," the board said, only makes it more likely that the Postal Service "may become a burden" to taxpayers.

The Postal Service said in February that it planned to switch to five-day-a-week deliveries beginning in August for everything except packages as a way to hold down losses.

But that announcement was a gamble. The agency essentially was asking Congress to drop from spending legislation the longtime ban on five-day-only delivery. Congress did not do that when it passed a spending measure last month.

"By including restrictive language ... Congress has prohibited implementation of a new national delivery schedule for mail and package," the postal Board of Governors said in a statement Wednesday.

The board said it was disappointed by the congressional action, but would not disregard the law. It directed the Postal Service to delay putting in place the new delivery schedule until Congress passes legislation that gives the agency "the authority to implement a financially appropriate and responsible delivery schedule."

The board made the decision in a closed meeting Tuesday.

Officials said that to restore the service to long-term financial stability, the agency must have the flexibility to reduce costs and come up with new revenues.

"It is not possible for the Postal Service to meet significant cost reduction goals without changing its delivery schedule — any rational analysis of our current financial condition and business options leads to this conclusion," the board statement said.

An independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control. It lost nearly $16 billion last year — $11.1 billion of that due to a 2006 law Congress passed forcing it to pay into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does.

"Given these extreme circumstances and the worsening financial condition of the Postal Service, the board has directed management to seek a reopening of negotiations with the postal unions and consultations with management associations to lower total workforce costs, and to take administrative actions necessary to reduce costs," according to the statement. It offered no giving further details.

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