If you want to mail a letter in Sugar Hill, N.H., you’d better be quick.
The town’s postal unit has cut its hours to a mere 30 minutes per day, sparking outrage from the rural community’s 563 residents that has now caught the attention of the state’s two U.S. Senators.
“We are concerned about both the nature of the changes in service and the manner in which they were made,” Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R- NH, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, said in a letter to the Postal Service district manager on Friday, also calling for USPS to hold a community meeting.
The Postal Service announced in May that instead of eliminating up to 3,700 post offices, it would instead reduce their hours of operation from 8 hours per day to between 2 and 4 hours, but only after holding community meetings.
In Sugar Hill, residents are scratching their heads as to why their office was stripped down to 30 minutes, and, moreover, why there was never a community meeting.
“We had no prior knowledge of this,” Lissa Boissonneault, the Sugar Hill town clerk and tax collector, told ABC News. “One day there was a sign and the next day it started and we are pretty upset.”
Boissonneault said the Postal Service “slapped a sign on the door late Friday afternoon” and by Saturday the new rules went into effect, cutting operating hours from 3 hours to 30 minutes per day and eliminating all services except selling stamps and delivering mail.
But the postal service insists the Sugar Hill location is “not a post office” and therefore did not have to go through the requisite steps to reduce its hours. Tom Rizzo, the Postal Service spokesman for Northern New England, said Sugar Hill is a “very unique situation” and that there is no plan to cut post office hours back to 30 minutes nationwide.
“It’s an isolated change that actually brings Sugar Hill closer to the normal operation of similar units, but still allows for roughly double the service of other units of its kind and has no national implications,” Rizzo told ABC News.
Sue Brennan, a USPS spokeswoman, said that nationwide there are less than a dozen “non-personnel” units, such as the one in Sugar Hill.
Nearly 13,000 post offices across the country could see their hours reduced, although probably none as dramatically as in Sugar Hill. The USPS claims its plan to cut back operating hours will save the cash-strapped service $500 million per year and will be fully implemented by September 2014.
The plan is part of a broader initiative to try to fill the Postal Service’s multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. USPS posted a loss of $3.2 billion last quarter.