By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
U.S. Postal Service trucks will arrive in Quincy about 90 minutes later starting this weekend and letter carrier start times will be pushed back by 15 minutes, and that is a concern for many local businesses.
Valerie Welsch, a Postal Service regional spokesman, said the later arrival is designed to improve postal service performance for priority mail and priority express mail.
"When we rebranded the priority and priority express mail, we made it clear to the public that it now includes delivery in one, two or three days, so that required changes in transportation," Welsch said.
Postal service workers say letter carriers have been starting their routes at 8 a.m. Plans call for them to leave at 8:15 a.m. And people with post office boxes have been able to pick up mail by 8 a.m., but that is expected to be delayed until 9.
Welsch does not believe most customers will notice a change in their mail service. She also doubts that mail trucks arriving 90 minutes later will require more than the 15-minute delay for letter carriers.
"Most of our mail now comes off our truck in carrier delivery sequence, so all they really have to do is pick up a tray of mail and load it into their vehicle and head out. So it's less time consuming once the mail arrives," Welsch said.
Several Quincy business owners and professionals said they will have to see how the new delivery schedule works.
Amy Looten, executive director of the Quincy Area Chamber of Commerce, said many businesses have post office boxes. She said the change will be inconvenient for business owners who are used to picking up mail at 8 a.m. as they're heading to work. If the mail isn't in boxes until 9, it will be more difficult for people to get mail if they're the only ones working.
"What concerns us even more with delayed delivery, however, is that there must be enough time to process incoming payments in order to deposit them in the bank on the same day. If delivery is too late, the bank posting could be delayed a day and that could affect a company's cash flow. That would be a problem," Looten said.
Glenda Hackemack, Quincy's director of administrative services, said lots of mail still comes into City Hall. Many of the water bills and other payments still arrive by mail.
"We will not know how we're affected until we see what time we actually do get the mail," Hackemack said.
Attorney James Rapp said his law office had to stop relying very heavily on mail years ago.
"Clearly the mail service is working itself out of existence," Rapp said.
Law offices that used to insist on original documents have been forced to use scanning and emails to assure faster delivery of documents. In those cases where delivery schedules are required and original documents are needed, Rapp uses delivery services such as Federal Express and UPS.
"I have increasingly assumed that if people are getting mail, that they get it two or three days later," Rapp said.
Mike Klingner of Klingner & Associates PC said his engineering firm has relied less on the mail service.
Quincy residents may be more aware of postal service changes because of the elimination of a local mail processing center last year. Mail now is collected, taken to Springfield for processing and returned to Quincy for delivery.
Some communities in Northeast Missouri that have ZIP codes starting in 634 and 635 used to be sorted in Quincy as well. Now the 635 mail goes to St. Louis and the 634 mail goes to Columbia for sorting.
Virginia Hunter of Quincy has her own story about a mistake by the Postal Service. She sent out a note publicizing an upcoming family reunion that was postmarked on Aug. 5. The note arrived at its destination at another Quincy address on Sept. 3.
A postal official who would answer questions only if his name was not used said Quincy letter carrier routes have been in disarray. Some carriers are making their final deliveries between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
"We've been told that all of Quincy's letter carriers positions are full, but the system isn't working the way it should," the postal official said. "Within the next week, we'll see how the later truck arrival affects things."
Although much of the mail arrives on trucks presorted, there are thousands of letters that need additional sorting in Quincy and the number of clerks has been reduced.