- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Say goodbye to those pesky 1- and 2-cent stamps that used to clutter up desks and purses every time the price of mailing a letter went up.

A new “forever” stamp — good for mailing a letter no matter how much rates go up — was recommended today by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The panel also called for a 2-cent increase in first-class rates to 41 cents, a penny less than the post office had sought.

In addition, the changes would sharply scale back the price of heavier letters.

“Adoption of this proposal is good for the Postal Service, postal customers and our postal system,” commission Chairman Dan G. Blair said at a briefing.

A forever stamp would not carry a denomination, but would sell for whatever the first-class rate was at the time.

For example, if the 41-cent rate takes effect, forever stamps would sell for 41 cents. If rates later climbed to 45 cents or more, the price of the forever stamp also would increase at the counter or machine, but those purchased before the change still would be valid to mail a letter.

So there would be no need to buy small-denomination stamps to add to envelopes.

Currently, first-class mail costs 39 cents for the first ounce and 24 cents for each additional ounce.

While the first ounce would rise to 41 cents under the proposal, it would cost just 17 cents for each additional ounce.

That means the price of sending a two-ounce letter would decrease from 63 cents to 58 cents.

The proposal also recommended a 2-cent boost, to 26 cents, in the cost of mailing a postcard, also a penny less than the Postal Service had sought.

Mr. Blair said the rate proposals were scaled back because the higher rates the Postal Service proposed would have raised more income than necessary for the service to break even in 2008.

The proposal also suggested changes in a variety of other rates including a 17-cent surcharge on “odd-shaped” mail that cannot be processed using letter-sorting machines.

The matter now goes back to the board of governors of the post office which can accept the recommendations or ask for reconsideration. If accepted, the new rates could take effect as soon as May.

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