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home : news : news January 19, 2019

12/28/2018 6:20:00 AM
Price Of Stamps Going Up
Graphic Courtesy of
Graphic Courtesy of

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

The cost of a Forever stamp may go up a nickel starting January 27th.

The US Postal Service proposed the changes in October and if approved, the cost of a Forever stamp will increase from 50 cents to 55 cents, the largest increase in stamp prices since 1991.

Priority Mail flat rate prices will increase. A medium flat rate box that currently ships for $13.65 will cost $14.35.

While the first-class stamps will be more expensive, the USPS says it will lower the price per additional ounce for letters, decreasing from 21 cents to 15 cents.

The new prices are subject to approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Although it is subject to Congressional oversight, the Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Since it has been losing money because of the competition from other shipping sources and cell phone texting and email replacing first class letters in most cases, the Postal Service has been dealing with hard times in recent years.

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To cut the losses, the Postal Service closed a lot of Post Offices in small communities in 2011 and in 2014, reduced hours at many in 2013 and 2015.

In January 2013, hours were reduced at the Crouse, High Shoals and Alexis post offices. There was talk about possibly closing one or more of those, but the Postal Service issued surveys asking customers if they would prefer a reduction in hours instead--and they did.

The problem isn't just an American one. Canada cut mail delivery to three days each week in 2011, then eliminated door-to-door delivery--opting for community mailbox locations--in 2014. Just like in the US, the cutbacks were unpopular, and some politicians promised to restore door-to-door delivery, but after being elected--faced with the additional costs--they failed to follow through on that promise.

The government oversight of the US Postal Service has made it an occasional political item. One of the quirks of the relationship is the practice of 'franking.' Members of Congress can simply sign their names (or have it printed onto the envelope) to mail letters to their constituents. The original idea was that it provided a way for them to let voters know what was happening in Congress and to seek information from voters on issues. While it can legally be used only for official business, some say correctly that the privilege has at times been abused.

In January 2014, the Postal Service raised the cost of a stamp from 46 cents to 49 cents in January 2014 as part of what is called an "exigent" increase.

The USPS wanted to make the change permanent, but a court ruled it could not. That exigent increase left the price at 49 cents until April 2016 when the Postal Regulatory Commission for the first time in 97 years ordered the USPS to drop its prices. The cost of a first-class stamp went back to 47 cents until late January 2017. That's when the price returned to 49 cents.

If you bought Forever stamps--like the ones with the Liberty Bell--that are good for mailing a first-class letter regardless of the current rate, they'll now be worth a bit more when the rate goes up. If you mail a lot of letters, you may want to invest in a roll of the Forever stamps while you can still buy them at the current rate.

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