SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 26, 2013

USPS seeks an increase in cost of stamps

It soon could cost 49 cents to mail a letter.

The U.S. Postal Service said yesterday it wants to raise the price of a first-class stamp by 3 cents, citing the agency’s “precarious financial condition” and the uncertain prospects for postal overhaul legislation in Congress.

“Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” board chairman Mickey Barnett wrote customers.

The rate proposal must be approved by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. If the commission accepts it, the increase would become effective Jan. 26.

Beverly Postmaster Paul Capodilupo said he expects to hear some complaints from the public if the price increase goes through, “but I think the majority of the public will understand that 49 cents to mail a letter from Beverly, Mass., to Los Angeles, Calif., is a pretty good deal.”

Capodilupo said people can buy a forever stamp now for 46 cents and the stamp will be valid even after a price increase.

Under federal law, the post office cannot raise its prices more than the rate of inflation unless it gets approval from the commission. In seeking the increase, Barnett cited “extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses” by the agency.

As part of the rate increase request, the cost for each additional ounce of first-class mail would increase a penny to 21 cents, while the price of mailing a postcard would rise by a cent, to 34 cents. The cost to mail a letter to an international destination would jump 5 cents to $1.15.

The price of new forever stamps would be at the higher rate, if approved.

The Postal Service also said it would request price increases totaling 5.9 percent for bulk mail, periodicals and package service rates, according to a filing to be made with the commission today.

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