The Ottumwa Courier

September 27, 2013

USPS proposes raise in prices

By JOSH VARDAMAN Courier staff writer
Ottumwa Courier

---- — OTTUMWA—The United States Postal Service is going through hard times financially and is trying to come up with any possible way to try to lessen the impact of a society that is not sending mail like it used to.

On Wednesday, the postal Board of Governors announced they have developed plans to help generate revenue and are trying to increase the price of stamps by three cents, from 46 to 49 cents.

The raising of the price of stamps is not the first thing the Postal Service has done to try to secure some of their funds. Earlier this year, the Courier reported that USPS had decided to accelerate their consolidation plan, which will take many of the smaller mail processing facilities and combine them into one location. That change has not hit Iowa yet, but the surrounding states have been affected.

Increasing the postage prices is one of the last things the Board of Governors could find to try to increase the revenue for the Postal Service.

“Retail transactions are declining,” said Richard Watkins, USPS communications spokesman in Kansas City. “As a last resort, the Board of Governors has filed the proposal.”

Other prices will also see a price jump. The proposal is calling for a raise by one cent in additional ounces for first-class mail and postcard mailing, and letters going internationally will cost five cents more.

The expected revenue for the increased prices is said to be $2 billion, according a statement by board chairman Mickey Barnett in an Associated Press article. That will make a dent in the losses they are expected to have, which could reach $6 billion.

There is also a bipartisan bill currently in the Senate, which, if passed, would eliminate Saturday mail delivery and change door-to-door delivery to more of a cluster box and curbside delivery approach. It also contains a change to the method by which retiree health costs are calculated.

If that bill becomes law, the Board of Governors will go back and look at the price increases and make changes to the raised prices where they see the need, according to Watkins.

In order for the rate proposal to be added into Postal Service law, it must be approved by the independent Postal Regulatory Committee. If accepted, the proposal would be effective Jan. 26 of next year.

The Postal Service last raised prices on postage on Jan. 27, which included adding one cent to the cost of first-class mail.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman’s Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh