First-class stamp prices

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 5, 2001

climb one cent starting Jan. 7


Staff Writer

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Jan. 4, 2001 10 PM

Anyone going to the post office next week will notice a change when the total is tallied on the cash register.

As of Sunday, the United States Postal Service is raising the price of stamps by a penny.

The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors announced in early December it would allow the recommended decision of the Postal Rate Commission to raise the price of a First Class letter to 34 cents "under protest."

Board Chairman Einar V. Dyhrkopp has called for postal reform.

"Statutory reform of the nation’s postal system is necessary to provide the foundation for a financially secure Postal Service, one that is capable of meeting the needs of the American people today and far into the future," Dyhrkopp said.

Keeping a "financially secure" USPS meant raising rates.

New 34-cent letter rate stamps went on sale December 15. The first of the new stamps have been marked "USA FIRST-CLASS." In later stamp printings, the phrase "FIRST- CLASS" will be replaced by the 34-cent amount.

The new stamp designs feature the Statue of Liberty, flowers and an American flag and farm scene.

Over two billion one-cent stamps have already been made available for customers to use up supplies of older 33-cent stamps.

Troy Postmaster Cody Ward has been anticipating the change for some time.

"We do have the new stamps available," Ward said, adding the one-cent stamps are also in stock.

Ward said those who wait until after January 7 could wind up standing in line at the post office to get their stamps.

In addition to the price of stamps going up from 33 to 34 cents, the cost of special services will increase, as well.

The new cost of mailing a two pound Priority Mail package will increase to $3.95, although a new one pound rate is now also available at $3.50. The cost of mailing a one half pound Express Mail package will increase to $12.25.

Overall, rates are rising 4.6 percent, although price increases vary some by class of mail in accordance with the legal mandate for each class of mail to cover its own cost. The cost of mailing a letter will increase from 33 to 34 cents. Each additional ounce will decrease from 22 cents to 21 cents. The cost of mailing a postcard will remain 20 cents. International rates will also rise on January 7.

"Like all businesses, the Postal Service must periodically raise the prices it charges for its services to cover increases in the cost of doing business and to sustain high quality universal service," said Alabama postal spokesman Wil Srofe.

"With post offices in every community in the country, the U.S. Postal Service is a remarkable organization that processes and delivers over 40 percent of the total world mail volume, visiting every household and business in the country, daily," Srofe said.

Last year, the USPS delivered a record-setting 208 billion pieces of mail.

"Even more remarkable, the Postal Service has not received any tax money for operating expenses since 1982," Srofe said, making it necessary to raise prices at the post office.

But, Ward said not everything is on the rise.

Box rental fees (for the smallest boxes) is decreasing from 22 cents every six months to 19 cents.

"This is the first time I’ve ever known the box fees to decrease," Ward said.

Money order fees will also be dropping from 80 cents to 70 cents.