By Nick Janes

WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The U.S. Postal Service has been in dire straits for some time, and it announced Monday that its next-day delivery could soon become a thing of the past.

Less and less first-class mail going out means less money coming in.

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Christina Patton still sends out holiday cards in the mail, but she says she hasn’t mailed a bill in years.

“All my bills I do online. I haven’t mailed a bill in three years, maybe,” she said.

She’s not alone.

“With the decline of first-class mail, which is our bread and butter to operate on, we’ve got to make some drastic moves,” said the Postal Service’s Ralph Petty.

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The Postal Service says it wants to “move quickly” to close about half of its 500 mail processing centers nationwide, including one in Stockton and another in Redding.

The sorting machines that currently run 6six hours a day at the West Sacramento distribution center would be cranked up to 20 hours a day to handle the extra load.

With the additional processing time, it means next-day delivery would be virtually eliminated. First-class mail would take between two and three days.

The Postal Service is waiting on Congress to approve other cost-cutting measures, like eliminating Saturday delivery. Closing processing centers doesn’t require that congressional approval and could save billions — a short-term fix to a long-term problem.

“We’ve got to do something to cut out about $20 billion between now and 2015 if we’re going to be viable in the future,” Petty said.

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But analysts say, on the flip side, once consumers realize their mail is taking longer than it used to, it could push them further to online, a chance the Postal Service seems willing to take with its finances in serious trouble.