By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID
.c The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Mailing a letter will cost 3 cents more starting Sunday.
The boost in the first-class rate to 37 cents was approved in February after
months of hearings by the independent Postal Rate Commission.
A variety of other rates, including post cards, parcel post and priority
mail, go up at the same time. Postal Vice President Azeezaly Jaffer said the
increases would cost the average person about 45 cents extra a month.
Postmaster General John Potter has promised rates won't go up again until at
The increase comes none too soon for the cash-strapped Postal Service, which
lost $1.6 billion last year, even before the terrorist attacks cost it
hundreds of millions in added expenses.
Nondenominated stamps covering the new rate went on sale in early June and
the post office also is printing millions of 3-cent stamps to help people use
up leftover 34-cent stamps.
The stamps also can be purchased at post offices, online at www.usps.com/shop
or by calling toll free 1-800-STAMP-24.
The increases affect only domestic mail. The international letter rate of 60
cents for the first ounce to Mexico and Canada and 80 cents to other
countries remains unchanged.
Besides costs from the anthrax attacks and the Sept. 11 terrorism, mail
volume has been declining in the soft economy, reducing income for the agency
that does not receive taxpayer funds for normal operations. However, Congress
has approved $675 million for damage and to help pay for sanitizing
In an effort to cut costs, the post office halted new construction and
reduced staff by 12,000 last year and another 8,000 this year.
The agency also sought changes in the law that governs its operations in an
effort to get more flexibility in changing rates and offering new services.
However, the House Government Reform Committee rejected proposed legislation
by a 20-6 vote last week.
Following that defeat the Mailers Council, an organization of the mailing
industry, urged President Bush to create a commission to evaluate the post
office and make recommendations for change.
While the cost of the first ounce of first-class mail goes up 3 cents, each
additional ounce will remain at 23 cents.
Some other rates taking effect include:
-Postcard: 23 cents, up 2 cents.
-Priority mail, 1 pound: $3.85, up 35 cents.
-Express mail, 8 ounces: $13.65, up $1.20.
-Parcel post (varies), typical 2 pound: $4.14, up 69 cents.
-Certified mail: $2.30, up 10 cents.
-Signed return receipt: $1.75, up 25 cents.
-Money order up to $500: 90 cents, unchanged.
-Bank statement, 3 ounces: 83 cents, up 3 cents.
-Presorted utility bill: 27.8 cents, up 2.3 cents.
-Weekly news magazine, presorted, 5.8 ounces: 17.5 cents, up 1 cent.
-Household magazine, presorted, 13.8 ounces: 27.4 cents, up 1.5 cents.
-National newspaper, presorted, 10 ounces: 30.3 cents, up 2.6 cents.
-In-county newspaper, presorted, 4.5 ounces: 6 cents, unchanged.
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