STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Recent mail delivery issues and postal carrier staffing shortages continue to plague Steamboat and several other mountain towns.
“Shortly after Christmas, we stopped receiving mail altogether,” said Steamboat resident Misty Carter. “For four weeks, we got not one drop of mail.”
After that, Carter thought to herself, why not apply to be a mail carrier and try to help with the problem?
“I went into the post office and left my name and number with them,” Carter said. “I told them that I was interested in a route position.”
She says she waited weeks before she heard back from anyone. She quickly realized why the U.S. Postal Service is having so many issues with staffing, blaming bureaucracy and mismanagement.
"It took the Post Office three weeks to get back to me, and when someone finally did call, it was a third party," Carter said. “It was one of the people who had already bid on a route that called me back. Whoever the post office subcontracts, these routes out to. I guess there’s a process for that, and they’re very tight-lipped about it. I can’t figure out how to get inside that loop.”
Steamboat and Crested Butte, among other mountain towns, are now pursuing lawsuits against the United States Postal Service for failing to deliver, among other things. Colorado congressional leaders, including Representative Brittany Petterson and Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, are pressing USPS for answers.
It’s an issue that has incensed entire mountain communities.
“It’s the U.S. Post Office’s obligation to provide service,” said Steamboat City Councilwoman Gail Garey.
“Find a way to incentivize more people to want to work for the Post Office,” said Steamboat resident Marie Winter. "This has gone on far too long and it's starting to impact our quality of life."
“I don’t know why we don’t get mail delivery and so many people in America do,” said Steamboat resident Lori Mitchell.
For Carter, the pay that third-party contractor offered her to be a rural route carrier added insult to injury.
“The pay is $145 a day,” Carter said.
USPS has insisted that rural route carriers can make more than $100,000 a year. At $145 per day, a person would make $52,925 if they worked all 365 days in the year.
“You have to use your own vehicle. There’s no health benefits, there’s no paid vacations. It just doesn’t cut it. I don’t know anyone who could live off that," said Carter. "This is just reference. My son works at a pizza place for four hours a day one day a week, and he makes $60 in tips. Give somebody else the opportunity to make the money and solve the problem instead of all these people who are getting the contracts.”
Denver7 reached out to the U.S. Postal Service for comment. A spokesperson said they should have an update with more information later this week.
Denver7 also reached out to Rep. Petterson’s office for a comment and did not hear back.