The U.S. Postal Service isn't as important to our daily lives than it was even a decade ago. Nevertheless, it is relevant - and necessary. Mail must be delivered in this country at a reasonable cost.
Unfortunately, the reduction in mail volume has created a painful financial pinch for the Postal Service. This independent agency that reports to Congress, which is expected to run like a business, simply can't keep from drowning in red ink without taxpayer subsidy.
The trick for the Postal Service is to reduce the billions of dollars in loses while still offering a service that gets the letters and packages delivered at an affordable price.
The Postal Service has to find the right balance.
Postal officials recently unveiled plans to cut expenses that will impact operating hours throughout the Walla Walla Valley. But, at least, local postal locations will remain open and services will continue to be offered.
Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Patrick R. Donahoe said meeting the needs of postal services remains a top priority balanced by aligning service options with customer demand and reduced operating costs.
"With that said, we've listened to our customers in rural America and we've heard them loud and clear - they want to keep their post office open," Donahoe said. "We believe (the changes) will serve our customers' needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability."
Daily post office hours in Dixie, Prescott, Starbuck, Touchet and Wallula would be cut from eight to four. Hours of operation in Burbank would be reduced from eight to six daily.
The proposed changes locally are, of course, small potatoes. However, similar changes are being made across the country and will add up to savings of half a billion dollars a year by 2014.
The proposal will be reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission and community meetings would be conducted to gather public opinion.
These changes aren't likely to be enough to keep the Postal Service costs to an acceptable level. It's likely service will have to be trimmed further. The idea of ending Saturday service has been frequently discussed and someday it might come to fruition.
The Postal Service will experience many changes over the next few years and beyond. Not all will be popular with the public and Postal Service employees.
But those changes will have to be tolerated for the U.S. Postal Service to survive.