Blue postal collection boxes here to stay in NatchezPublished 12:01am Thursday, July 19, 2012
NATCHEZ — Natchez and surrounding areas seemed to avoid in the last year one cost-saving measure the U.S. Postal Service has been delivering to communities across the nation.
The emblematic blue mail collection boxes have been disappearing across the country in an effort to reduce costs for under-used collection boxes. Natchez, and other areas with the 391 zip code prefix, have not had any boxes removed in the last year.
“But if you asked me have the (collection boxes) declined since perhaps 1995, then I would say so,” USPS Mississippi District Spokesman Doug Kyle said.
Kyle said the volume of mail may have reduced in the past few years in Natchez but has stabilized so that the postal service has not seen the need to remove boxes in the last year.
“There’s probably some correlation to the (increased) usage of mail the further you get away from larger metro areas into the small-town cities and rural areas,” he said.
But that is not the story elsewhere.
Kyle said the postal service has experienced a 25-percent decline in first-class mail volume since 2006. The decline, which has been mainly attributed to the continuous advent of e-mail and other technology, has been exasperated by the downturn of the economy.
USPS, he said, receives no tax dollars for its operations and relies instead on postage and postal products and services.
The removal of blue collection mailboxes is just one of the cost-saving measures the postal service has implemented in the past few years.
USPS is also consolidating mail-processing facilities all over the country, including here in Mississippi.
All mail processing operations from the Grenada Customer Service Mail Processing Center will move to the Jackson processing center.
All mail processing operations from the Gulfport and Hattiesburg facilities will move to the Mobile, Ala., center.
Operations from the Tupelo center will move to the Memphis, Tenn., center.
Mail from Natchez goes to the Jackson processing center, Kyle said, so Natchez customers should not see a delay in getting their mail. Other Mississippi customers, he said, may see one, two and three-day delivery services move to only two and three-day services.
The postal service has also cut hours in low-volume rural post offices. Area offices, including the one in Sibley, were placed on an evaluation list earlier this year for offices facing the possibility of shorter hours.
The cost-reducing initiatives are just good business decisions when faced the budget constraints the postal service has experienced, Kyle said.
Internet services account for 35 percent of the postal service’s revenue, which USPS Spokeswoman Enola Rice said is a huge change in the traditional way customers have done business with the postal service.
Rice said with the demand for online services and despite the cost-reducing measures, the postal service ensures that it is providing universal service for customers who want online or traditional services.