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New Mail-Sorting Process Causing Unnecessary Delays in Ketchikan



December 09, 2013
Monday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Without apparently any public process, the United States Postal Service (USPS ) made a decision recently to change its longstanding practice for processing mail in Ketchikan and is now flying the mail to Juneau for processing, then back to Ketchikan.

In a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) said the decision to change how Ketchikan mail is sorted was made several months ago with apparently no public notice. At that time the USPS decided to transport all mail deposited at the Ketchikan post over over 200 miles by air to Juneau where it would be sorted. The Ketchikan-destined mail is then returned by air to Ketchikan. A plan which Begich says is inefficient and does not take Southeast Alaska weather delays into account.

“It is my understanding that in theory the USPS planned to have Ketchikan mail sent to Juneau in the evening, sorted, and then returned the next morning for delivery,” said Sen. Begich. 

“Unfortunately, it does not appear that those responsible for the decision had an adequate understanding of the weather in Southeast Alaska, which can cause flight delays and cancellations during much of the year, nor did they take into account the possibility of mechanical breakdowns of aircraft used by the USPS contractor.  The result is that my office has received numerous complaints from local governments and businesses concerned about timely delivery of bills and receipt of payments for taxes, utilities, goods, and services.”

“I would urge you to review the decision to fly Ketchikan-bound mail hundreds of miles from Ketchikan to Juneau and back to Ketchikan, balancing the potential cost savings, if any, with common sense and the needs of Ketchikan residents, businesses, and local governments to have reliable and timely mail delivery, and the adverse economic impacts which the decision has already had on them,” said Sen. Begich.  “I believe that the result of such a review will be a decision to retain Ketchikan-bound mail for processing in Ketchikan.”

In his letter Begich stated that he understand the needs of the United States Postal Service to achieve costs savings; however, he questions the process. Begich has previously urged the USPS to have a more transparent and inclusive process when considering changes in postal operations that affect customers. "I believe that, had the USPS given an opportunity to its customers in Ketchikan to discuss the proposed change in how Ketchikan-deposited mail destined for Ketchikan was to be processed, the USPS might well have made a different decision."

According to the U.S. Postal Service, the 2013 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2012 – Sept. 30, 2013) ended with a net loss of $5 billion. This marks the 7th consecutive year in which the Postal Service incurred a net loss.

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