Cost-saving fixes for the United States Postal Service routinely spark hot debates – one still-developing measure on Capitol Hill had a short-lived run in Kilgore this week.
In late May, the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved the Secure Delivery for America Act of 2014 (HR 4670). Next headed for a vote by the full House, if finally enacted the current bill would require the conversion of 15 million at-the-door mailboxes to other forms of delivery, such as curbside units or centralized “cluster boxes,” within a decade.
On June 7, certain local customers who receive their post at-the-door found a letter waiting from Kilgore Postmaster Joe McQuiston requesting they install a curbside box (preferable, he said, to a cluster box) by June 14.
By Tuesday, however, USPS officials nixed the idea – customers soon found a follow-up note at their door.
“Some customers in the Kilgore area recently received a letter requesting that they change their mode of delivery from door to curbside,” USPS spokesman McKinney Boyd wrote in a press release. “We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the letter. Customers currently receiving door delivery will retain their mode of delivery and no action is necessary.”
McQuiston’s June 7 letter opened with a brief explanation of the at-the-door delivery debate.
“As you know the Postal Service is looking to end door to door delivery within the upcoming fiscal year,” he wrote, which means that a cluster box would be installed instead of home delivery. “At this time, I would prefer that each customer install a curbside box to avoid this type of delivery.”
Outlining dimensions and directions for a curbside mail box, McQuiston asked the customers – some Meadowbrook Historic District residents reportedly received the note as did some Horseshoe Drive homeowners – to make the switch by Saturday.
This will give me enough time to update the data base for deliveries,” McQuiston explained.
Before the post office pulled the plan, Meadowbrook district resident Phyllis Jewell said she intended to comply but expressed concerns about the timetable and the overall loss of at-the-door delivery.
Granted, cluster boxes may be appropriate for new developments, Jewell said, but for existing customers “To me it should be grandfathered – if you have the door drop, you should be able to keep the door drop.”
Boyd, contacted Tuesday, said that’s the plan – no change is on the books right now.
Postal Service delivery mode conversion efforts now and in the near future are focused on enabling shopping malls, shopping centers (strip malls) and business and residential parks to voluntarily convert from door delivery to centralized delivery,” he reported. “Voluntary mode conversion has been a longstanding practice and will continue.”
Apologizing for the confusion, Boyd reiterated the proposed local switch is void.
Passed by the House panel on an 18-13 partisan vote (supported by Republican lawmakers), the text of the HR 4670 legislation introduced by committee chairman Darrell Issa can be viewed via http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4670/text. Including a preference for “secure centralized delivery,” Issa estimates the measure would save $2 billion annually with the 10-year conversion of 1.5 million mailboxes each year.
It was primarily a congressional discussion,” Boyd said Tuesday. “No legislation has been enacted based upon this issue – Congress has this particular issue as a discussion at this time.”