Udall, Heinrich Voice Concerns about Plan to Reduce Hours at U.S. Post Offices in New Mexico

 WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich sent a letter to U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe to express their concerns about the Postal Service's multi-year "Post Plan" to reduce costs and streamline operations, which may impact over 140 post offices in New Mexico. 

USPS announced the Post Plan in 2012 in response to financial challenges it was facing at the time, which included declining revenues and mail volume. The Post Plan cuts operating costs for smaller Post Offices by reducing hours, delivering mail via rural carriers or highway contract routes, creating Village Post Offices by contracting with local establishments or consolidating with nearby Post Offices. While the Postal Service has reconsidered an initial proposal to close more than 50 New Mexico post offices, residents of many rural communities across the state, where post offices are already sparsely located, have expressed concerns about reducing service hours. The senators have previously urged the postmaster general to consider their concerns as USPS implements the Post Plan. 

"We were pleased to learn that The United States Post Office (USPS) reconsidered its initial plan to close over 50 post offices in New Mexico in 2011 and announced the Post Plan as an alternative," the senators wrote. "However, we have heard from many constituents who are anxious about reduced service hours in their communities. Reductions in hours or consolidation into another nearby office can be especially hard hitting in rural areas, where customers often have to drive for miles to reach their closest Post Office."

In addition to concerns about reduced service hours and consolidated offices, Udall and Heinrich indicated they have received complaints from constituents about the accessibility of community meetings. As part of the Post Plan, the Post Office has held meetings in affected areas to gain local feedback. The senators urged USPS to heavily weigh input received at the local meetings in its decision-making process, and to ensure the meetings are transparent, accessible and scheduled at convenient times when working community members can attend. 

Finally, the senators outlined their concerns about the Postmasters who did not elect early retirement and may be seriously impacted by any reduction in hours or benefits. 

A copy of the letter is available below: 

Patrick R. Donahoe

Postmaster General & Chief Executive Officer

United States Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW

Washington, D.C. 200260

Dear Postmaster General:

We write to you today regarding our continued concerns about the multi-year Post Plan process, which is currently underway in New Mexico and may result in modifications to over 140 post offices in the state. 

We were pleased to learn that The United States Post Office (USPS) reconsidered its initial plan to close over 50 post offices in New Mexico in 2011 and announced the Post Plan as an alternative. However, we have heard from many constituents who are anxious about reduced service hours in their communities. Reductions in hours or consolidation into another nearby office can be especially hard hitting in rural areas, where customers often have to drive for miles to reach their closest Post Office.

Additionally, we have heard complaints about community meetings organized by USPS to gain community input on the future of individual offices.  These meetings were highlighted by USPS as a key step in the process to gain local input before any decision is made.  We strongly urge you to ensure the feedback received at these meetings be weighed heavily in your decision making process and that no decision be made regarding the future of local post offices before these meetings are held.  We believe that these meeting should be transparent, accessible and scheduled at times that are convenient for community members who work full-time to attend.

We are also concerned that those Postmasters who did not elect early retirement in 2012 and remained an active part of their rural communities will be seriously impacted by any reduction in hours or benefits. New Mexico Postmasters are integral to these small towns and are often leaders in their communities.

We ask that you consider these factors moving forward with the implantation of the Post Plan and will continue to monitor this process closely as it unfolds in New Mexico.

Sincerely,

Tom Udall 

United States Senator

Martin Heinrich

United States Senator