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Berkeley Councilman Proposes Email Tax To Fund Postal Service

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A USPS employee sorts mail. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

A USPS employee sorts mail. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

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BERKELEY (CBS SF) – A Berkeley city councilman has suggested that a tax on email may be wise way to help fund the United States Postal Service, according to the blog Berkeleyside.

District 8 Supervisor Gordon Wozniak, who represents an area that includes the Claremont Hotel and the eastern end of the UC Berkeley campus, made the comments Tuesday as city officials moved to halt the sale of a Post Office building on Allston Way due to a decline in business.

“There should be something like a bit tax. I mean a bit tax could be a cent per-gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year…And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email,” Wozniak said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Wozniak said this would not only help fund the cash-strapped post office, but also discourage spam. According to Berkeleyside, the idea was even studied by the United Nations in 1999 as a means of funding global communications infrastructure.

The Postal Service, which suffered a $15.9 billion loss in the past budget year, announced plans last month to end regular Saturday mail delivery. The delivery of letters and other mail has plummeted in recent years. Email has decreased the mailing of paper letters, but online purchases have increased package shipping, forcing the Postal Service to adjust to customers’ new habits.

However, much of the service’s red ink comes from a 2006 law forcing it to pay $11 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other agency does. Without that and related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion last year, lower than the previous year.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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