"No other service, no other public or private entity has to do this," Brazil Post Office Branch President Karen Stearley said. The Postal Service is paying out of its operating budget, which isn't funded by taxpayers. Instead, all its revenue comes from the sale of its products and services.
According to SaveAmericasPostalService.org, the other financial problem the Postal Service faces is it doesn't have access to "tens of billions of dollars of earned revenue that are sitting in surplus funds. As a quasi-public agency, it needs Congress to give it access to its own money."
H.R. 1351: USPS Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011, which has bipartisan support and over 200 co-sponsors, addresses the pre-funding issue.
"Bill 1351 helps correct the problem," Stearley told The Brazil Times. "They want to recalculate what's needed. We need Congress to give us access to our own money. It's like we've got the money; we're not going broke. We don't need a taxpayer bailout; we simply need access to the funds that we have overpaid. We also need an adjustment in that mandated payment to the retirees' health benefits."
She explained the Postal Service has overpaid the Civil Service Retirement Account and there has been an overpayment on the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS), causing extra revenue in surplus funds.
"It would be nice if it would require pre-funding only when the post office is profitable or repeal that pre-funding mandate all together because like I said nobody else is required to do that," she said.
According to the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), if the USPS were a private company, it would be allowed to fund its retiree health expenses on a pay-as-you-go basis, which is the norm for multi-employer plans.
"That in a nutshell is our biggest problem, we're saddled with that $5.5 billion payment every year, and if we're having a good year -- fine, but if we're having a tough year? Everybody's having a tough year. It's not just the post office, everybody's feeling the crunch." Other than House Bill 1351, another bill is being discussed in regards to these issues. The H.R. 2309: Postal Reform Act of 2011 will authorize the postal service to go to five days, will downsize the USPS by closing more post offices and will require mailboxes to be on the streets or in groups at the end of streets instead of near doors on the houses.
"It just blows my mind," Stearley said.
"Congress keeps talking about creating jobs and this bill could drop the hammer on 80-100,000 nationwide good-paying jobs."
Stearley explained her concerns for moving mailboxes farther from houses. "It would not be a safe thing for the elderly people's physical well-bring," Stearley said. "We (mail carriers) know where all the older people live and which ones live alone. Now on the business side I can see where (moving the mailboxes farther from the house) would be a savings, because we wouldn't have to go to the door unless we needed a signature. Our efficiency would probably go up and we could get around faster, but I think for our customers I don't know if it's worth that to them. You have to balance what is good for the business versus what is good for the customer."
Stearley encouraged community members to research the issues for themselves.
"We want to put a call out there for our customers to know what's going on, because this doesn't just affect us," she said. "This is something, if it gets passed, that is going to affect everybody from businesses that are open on Saturdays to people who need their medicine delivered on Saturdays." Stearley asked community members to take action by calling Indiana District 8 Representative Larry Bucshon to voice their opinions.
"I feel like people need to call Mr. Bucshon's office and ask questions and give their comments," Stearley told The Brazil Times.
"This is the postal service and I'm just afraid far too many people forget that's the only product we have ... I'm truly concerned about what will happen to service," she said. "We're not a moneymaking outfit. My concern is at what cost to service? As an individual, as a carrier who's out there everyday taking care of my customers, if we can do all this stuff without hurting service, then I'm fine. If it makes my job harder, so be it. But I don't want to see service take a hit."
Stearley spoke of the USPS as a service people could easily take for granted.
"We're always there, well what if we're not? If we're important to you, then you need to call Mr. Bucshon and ask him to support Bill 1351 and to not support Bill 2309."
Currently, H.R. 2309 has been considered in committee, which has recommended it be considered by the House as a whole. H.R. 1351 is in the first step in the legislative process.
To contact Bucshon's local office, call 812-465-6484.