WASHINGTON (AP/WRCB) - A top Postal Service official says the agency isn't "writing off" first-class mail.

It's slowing down delivery of first-class mail, meaning mailers can no longer expect next-day delivery in nearby communities.

The timetable will now be two to three days.

Postal Service Vice President David Williams says the agency is "responding to the current market conditions" and putting itself in a position to "respond to future changes."

It's planning to move quickly to close 252 mail processing centers, a move that's expected to eliminate about 28,000 jobs nationwide.

More than 250 workers here could be transferred to the plant in North Georgia, instead of being laid off if Chattanooga doesn't make the cut.

Williams says the cost-cutting is necessary as more people turn to the Internet for email communications and bill payments.

First class mail volume is expected to drop by roughly half by the year 2020.

The post office has already announced a one cent increase in first-class mail to 45 cents beginning next month.

It's facing imminent default this month on a $5.5 billion annual payment to the Treasury for retiree health benefits.

The Postal Service has said it needs to make cuts of $20 billion by 2015 to be profitable.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)