By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
Some mailers are saying that the end of the temporary surcharge on stamp prices appears to have helped the United States Postal Service’s bottom line.
Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan has made no secret that she wants to return to the higher stamp prices the USPS was forced to end on April 10, urging Congress to erase the lower prices as part of legislation that would set the USPS on a path to financial security.
But now some mailers are looking at the Postal Service’s financial results for April and saying that, even with the price cut, April was not the disaster that postal officials had been predicting.
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Stephen Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, put it bluntly: “USPS had a really good month in April.”
According to the USPS financial report, the federal agency showed $187 million in controllable operating income in April, much better than its projected $156 million controllable operating loss for the month.
Year to date, the USPS is showing a $2.117 billion net operating income, Kearney points out.
That’s almost $700 million better than the $1.44 billion the USPS had projected, and $500 million better than last year’s figures.
Mail volume declined 0.1 percent from last year’s level.
Kearney noted that the volume growth is in competitive products, which have higher per piece revenue and higher per piece contribution to the Postal Service’s costs.
Those operating income figures exclude some congressionally imposed costs, such as prepaying for retiree healthcare plans, over which the Postal Service has no control.
The USPS wants to return to a 49¢ first-class stamp and is suggesting it’ll be seeking higher postage rates regardless of whether Congress acts.
But large mailers have already taken aim at that proposal, which Brennan laid before the House Oversight Committee May 11.
In a May 23 letter to the Oversight committee, a coalition of mailers rejected the Postal Service’s claim that “a broad swath” of mailers support a return to the emergency rates that the USPS was forced to reduce on April 10.
“While the Postal Service has financial challenges, we respectfully submit that restoring Congress to the business of postal ratemaking is not a solution. in whole or in part,” said the letter endorsed by 39 mailing groups and companies.
Congress has not imposed a postal rate increase since 1968, the letter noted.
The mailers’ letter said that the groups opposed to Brennan’s proposal represent 93 percent of the Postal Service’s mail volume.
House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has stated he wants to push legislation through his committee soon, saying he does not want the panel to “kick the can down the road” by dodging the Postal Service’s plea for financial help.
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