First-class stamp to cost 37 cents starting Sunday, other rates up too


Wednesday, June 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) _ 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 least 2004.

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 government mail.

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.