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Number of new offices reported to the division of post-office supplies ..
886 1, 662 656 35 75 695
THE FREE-DELIVERY SYSTEM. The number of free delivery offices at the close of the year was 178, an increase of 19, viz: Brockton, Mass.; Decatur, Ill.; Eau Claire, Wis.; Elgin, III.; Fitchburg, Mass.; Fort Worth, Tex.; Jamestown, N. Y.; La Crosse, Wis.; Lawrence, Kans.; Lockport, N. Y.; Newburg N. Y.; Norwich, Conn.; Raleigh, N. C.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San José, Cal.; Saratoga Springs, N. Y.; Sedalia, Mo.; Sioux City, Iowa ; and Waterbury, Conn. The number of carriers was 4,358, an increase of 468.
The regular appropriation for this service was $4,000,000, to which was subsequently added a special appropriation of $50,000 to pay substitutes for carriers on vacation, and later a special appropriation of $15,000 to cover an anticipated deficiency, making a total of $4,065,000.
The entire cost of the service was $3,985,952.55, leaving an unex. pended balance of $79,047.45. This large surplus was owing to the fact that very few additional carriers were put in service after the 1st of March last.
The increased expenditure over that of the preceding year was owing to the extension of the service to additional cities, to the number of carriers added to the force at the old offices, and to the increased pay of carriers under the act of August 2, 1882.
POSTAGE ON LOCAL MATTER.
The total postage on local matter at the several offices amounted to $5,280,723.10, an increase over that of the preceding year of $503,238.23, and over the entire cost of the service of $1,294,770.55, an iucrease of 10.53 per cent. in postage on local matter, and 1.68 per cent. over cost of service.
The average cost per piece in handling matter was 2.3 mills, the same as the previous year. The average cost per carrier on the total cost of the service, less the amount paid post-ottice inspectors, was $912.90, an increase of $14.12 over that of last year. This increase was owing to the fact that a large number of carriers reached the maximum salary.
The number of mail letters delivered during the year was 464,996,812, an increase of 15.50 per cent. over the preceding year; mail postal cards delivered was 104,742,598, an increase of 7.51 per cent.; local letters delivered, 143,406,578, an increase of 17.68 per cent. ; local postal cards delivered, 78,226,576, an increase of 12.99 per cent.; registered letters delivered, 3,187,965, an increase of 3.03 per cent. ; newspapers delirered, 256,054.604, an increase of 10.53 per cent.
The number of letters collected was 469,858,875, an increase over that of the preceding year of 13.41 per cent.; postal cards collected 140,630,704, an increase of 8.13 per cent.; newspapers collected 83,432,673, an increase of 18.38 per cent. The whole number of pieces handleddelivered and collected—was 1,744,537,413, an increase of 13.30 per cent.; and the average number handled by each carrier was 400,307, an increase of 1.08 per cent.
Additional information concerning the operations of this service will be found in the tabulated statements marked C, D, and E, appended to this report.
The law authorizing the extension of this system to places having 20,000 inhabitants or $20,000 gross postal receipts per annum, has almost reached the maximum limit, the service having been extended to all cities of this class with few exceptions. Its further extension therefore, with the exceptions alluded to, must await the growth of cities to the requirements of the present law, or additional legislation lowering the qualifications of population and postal revenue entitling places to this service.
The success of this system, its public convenience, its stimulus to correspondence, as well as the large excess of postage from local matter over the cost of the service, in my judgment warrants its extension to smaller places. I have no hesitation, therefore, in renewing the recommendation of this office of the last year for additional legislation authorizing its extension to places of 10,000 inhabitants, provided that such places had a gross postal revenue for the preceding fiscal year of $10,000.
There are also, in some of the more densely populated sections of the country, towns or places of considerable population in close proximity to one another, without the population or gross revenue taken singly, required by the present law, but which have in the aggregate both requirements. To extend the service to this class of offices, which in my judgment should be done, the law should be so changed as to authorize the consolidation of the populations and postal receipts of such places in considering their claims to this service. This might be easily done by establishing this system at the principal or central office of a group of offices in easy distances from one another, substituting branches of the main office for the several independent offices, and extending the carriers' delivery to the adjacent communities, and requiring the branch offices to report to the main office, and the latter to the Department.
CONSOLIDATION OF OFFICES.
This policy has been found to work well at all the large free-delivery offices, and no reason is perceived why it could not be extended with good results to non-free-delivery offices throughout the more densely populated sections of the country. The number of post-offices (51,252 at the close of the last fiscal year) could in this way be greatly reduced, and the vast work of examining so many accounts would be greatly diminished; besides, it would tend to a more intelligent and harmonious service, as the postmaster at the principal office, presumably of more than average intelligence, would exercise a supervision over the branches of his office.
DIVISION OF POST-OFFICE SUPPLIES.
This division supplies post-offices of the first and second classes with twine, wrapping paper, canceling-ink, letter balances and scales, rating, canceling, and marking stamps, stamping pads, stationery, and blauks.
In compliance with the act approved March 3, 1885, postmasters at offices of the third and fourth classes will be furnished with caucelingink, stamping pads, marking and rating stamps from July 1, 1885.
The Railway Mail Service is furnished with wrapping and facing-slip paper and twine, and marking and rating stamps.
Stationery is furnished to the General Superintendent of the Railway Mail service.
The growth of the postal service is shown by the following tabulated statement of supplies furnished for the past five fiscal years, viz:
51, 469, 447
Blanks for Department, for postinasters, and for railway mail servico
36, 301 000 48, 176, 050 50, 156, 464 51, 697, 800 Books for records of the Department, for
postmasters, and for railway mail ser. vice
84, 821 82, 793 119, 529 131, 197 Facing slips...
41, 942, 400 | 32, 736, 600 48, 960, 000 48, 583, 700 Marking, rating, and canceling stamps.. 6, 092 6, 589 16, 556 23, 071 Jute twine.
393, 902 443, 102 584, 000 566, 717 Hemp twine..
105, 021 116, 439 149, 905 158, 298 Cotton twine. do.
71, 018 126, 296 Letter balances and scales
2, 429 2, 621 13, 541 4, 447 Wrapping paper
12, 244 13, 821 20, 839 11, 506 Canceling ink ...... pounds.
11, 376 (*) Inking pads.
87, 107 65, 141, 760
21, 229 500,000 210,000 130, 000
3,728 17, 313
* No appropriations. The appropriations for supplies for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, amounted to.. Total expenditures amounted to.......
$412, 277 30 358, 308 82
53, 968 48
Statement showing the appropriations and expenditures for the fiscal years 1883–’84, and
STATIONERY FOR FIRST AND SECOND CLASS POST-OFFICES.
It is but two years since the present system was adopted of furnish. ing supplies directly from the Department to offices of the first and second classes. Previously postmasters at offices of the classes referred to made such purchases of stationery as they deemed necessary, often paying excessive prices. The bills for these purchases were subsequently audited by the Department to the respective postmasters in the settlement of their quarterly accounts. The present system should be
continued because it enables the Department to purchase these supplies from the lowest responsible bidder.
These supplies, when received at the Department, are thoroughly ex. amined, tested, and compared with the respective samples submitted with the bids. Any inferiority in quality, count, measure, or weight is thus quickly discerned, and the remedy applied. Supplies are distributed, on requisition, to postmasters of first and second class offices through the railway mail service.
The expenditures for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1885, were $46,914.06, leaving an unexpended balance from the appropriation of $65,000 of $18,085.94. The expenditure of $46,914.06 as against $59,968.23 for the previous fiscal year shows the reduction of $13,054.17.
Of the expenditures for 1884–85, $9,178.74 were allowed postmasters of the first and second classes for amounts expended by them for facing-slips and miscellaneous supplies. This satisfactory result may be attributed in part to the present system; in part to the rates at which supplies were obtained, the market being cheapened by active competition and by the low prices of raw materials.
In consequence of this reduction an appropriation of $55,000 for stationery for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1887, is deemed sufficient. The growth of the service from year to year necessitates larger supplies. This, however, has been considered in fixing the estimate at $55,000.
The expenditures for stationery for the past six years have been as follows, viz: 1879-1880
$48, 284 81 1880-1881
49, 238 45 1881-1882
56, 517 28 1882-1883
55, 00 00 1883–1884
57, 700 00 1884–1885
46, 914 06 Total.....
314, 654 60 An average expenditure per year of $52,275.76.
PRINTING, BINDING, ETC., FOR THE DEPARTMENT. The following statement shows the appropriations and expenditures for the past five fiscal years :
POSTMARKING, RATING, AND CANCELING STAMPS, STAMPING PADS, ...
CANCELING INK. In compliance with the act approved March 3, 1885, offices of the third and fourth classes will be furnished with stamping-pads and canceling.ink. Previously only rating and marking stamps have been furnished them, as no appropriation applicable to the purchase of stamping-pads and canceling-ink had been made.
The increase in the demand for facing-slips, which bave become a necessity, exceeds in ratio the increase of population or the growth of the mail service.
During the past fiscal year the Railway Mail Service required 65,141,760 facing-slips, consuming 4,241 reams of paper, an increase of about 33 per cent. over the previous fiscal year, when 48,583,700 slips were used.
The Department records do not show the supply to postmasters. Suffice to say, that the office at New York, N. Y., uses 30,000 slips daily, the pripting of which is done at that office. Ten thousand reams of paper for facing-slips have been contracted for for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1886. Each ream cuts 15,360 slips, giving a total of 153,360,000. The printing of these slips for offices of the first and second classes has been paid for by the Department, at prices ranging from 15 cents to 50 cents per thousand, according to location, the average being about 20 cents per thousand.
An arrangement has been made whereby these slips are to be printed as desired by postmasters at offices of the first and second classes at 7 cents per thousand, making a reduction in the total expense of $20,000, provided the 10,000 reams of paper be used for printed slips. The necessary facing-slip paper is furnished to offices of the third and fourth classes, but the Department does not pay for the printing.
Previous to the present fiscal year, the same kind of paper has been used for wrapping paper and for slips. Now separate contracts are made for wrapping paper and for slips. The saving on the 10,000 reams will be about $7,600, with no change in quality.
DIVISION OF CORRESPONDENCE.
The following is a summary of the work performed in this division: Number of letters written to postmasters and to private individuals involving decisions under Postal Laws and Regulations
12,517 Number of telegrams sent in reply to communications requiring the immediate action of the Department
102 Number of newspapers and periodical publications claiming the right of ad
mission as second-class matter that have been examined and admitted or rejected....
3,819 Amount of money collected from publishers of second-class matter for viola
tions of law in mailing third-class matter inclosed in other publications at the second-class rate..
$1,090 37 This collection from publishers was made through the office of the Third Assistant Postmaster-General, as the result of decisions made by this office.
To this division is referred all correspondence of postmasters asking instruction relative to the discharge of their official duties, both with the public and with the Department; all inquiries regarding the rates of postage, or classification of mail matter; all disputes regarding the delivery of mail so addressed as to render it uncertain who is entitled to claim its delivery, and all correspondence addressed to the Department pertaining to the construction of postal laws.
The duty of classifying mail matter claimed to be entitled to the pound or second class rate of postage also belongs to this division; and as every device is resorted to by publishers of advertising sheets and publications designed primarily for advertising purposes to advertise the business of those who issue them, a very careful and close discrimina