Postal Service changes some Nebraska pickup times

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) _ The U.S. Postal Service is changing some mail pickup times across Nebraska as part of its plan to save more than $2 billion a year.

The change will mean delays if your letter doesn’t reach the mailbox on time. The Hastings Tribune reported that the deadline for mailing a letter in Hastings is being moved up two hours.

The agency is dealing with a downturn in mail as more people use email and other electronic messaging services.

Postal Service spokesman Brian Sperry said the self-supported agency is working to streamline its operations.

“The Postal Service is doing everything it can to gain efficiencies and help return the organization to financial stability because last year we lost $15.9 billion,’’ Sperry said.

Most of the Postal Service’s shortfall is related to payments for future retiree benefits it is required to make, but the decrease in mail volume also contributes.

Still, postal officials say no other government agency or business is required to make similar payments to future retiree benefits.

In Hastings, the new mail pickup times on weekdays will be 11:55 a.m. and 3:55 p.m. instead of the old 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. pickup times.

The Postal Service has been working to reduce costs by consolidating operations and reducing staff. But Congress has refused to allow the agency to drop Saturday delivery and it would not sign off on its plan to close several thousand rural offices.

The Postal Service did get approval to close more than 200 mail processing centers starting in 2013, but the estimated annual savings of $2.1 billion won’t be realized until the full cuts are completed in late 2014.

Postal officials also plan to reduce the hours of operation at many rural offices by September 2014.

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