By Elsa Maxey
The U.S. Postal Service, which operates as an independent agency of the federal government and is subject to Congressional overview, not only is about to increase the cost of a first class mail stamp, but it also expects to be lengthening the delivery of first class mail this upcoming year in the spring. So, when you go to the postal machines or buy stamps from the grocery store or across the mail counter, be prepared to pay more than $8.80 for the book of 20 stamps. In May 2009, the first class stamp went up by two cents and after mid-month in January, it will go up by one cent to cover the first ounce of first-class mail. That means you’ll be paying $9 for the book of stamps.
The postal service, however, will need to wait for Congress to okay other measures to relieve it from financial distress. This will include authorizing the five days a week delivery by eliminating service on Saturday. The changes are in response to what some have called a need for the postal service operations to operate more efficiently or possibly face bankruptcy.
Take note, not only will the recently announced one cent increase to 45 cents for a first-class mail stamp be taking place beginning Jan. 22, but first-class mail currently delivered within one to three days is expected to be lengthened to two to three days. Also, it is reported that periodicals could take between two and nine days to deliver. This is planned for the spring, however.
The consolidation of mail processing centers and closing post offices affecting thousands of employees, estimated to be 100,000, whose jobs could be cut is also planned for the upcoming year. None are on the chopping board in Fort Bend County among the 15 post offices in Texas announced earlier this year for possible closure as part of the money saving effort.
Those critical of the upcoming post office changes speculate that they could be counterproductive and cause more of the mail-type activity to go on the Internet with alternatives sought for things such as mail-order prescription drugs.
In the meantime with a little more than a month to go before the new stamp rate takes effect, you can stock up on the forever stamps or keep the ones you have without noticing or even feeling the penny increase.
But in the spring, that special card you will have mailed first class may not arrive on time, unless you’ve made an adjustment for the delivery day changes coming our way.