PLATTSBURGH — The cost for first-class postage stamps will increase by a penny to 33 cents beginning Sunday.
It's the first increase in first-class postage since stamps went from 29 cents to 32 cents about five years ago.
"It (the increase) is a lot lower than the rate of inflation," said George Perry, postmaster for the Plattsburgh Post Office.
Although it might have been convenient for the average customer to purchase stamps at a more manageable price like 35 cents, Perry said, the U.S. Postal Service had to consider all its customers, including businesses who send out a lot of mail.
"I don't think anyone who utilizes the Postal Service likes a rate increase," said Rep. John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor), who sits on the House postal commission.
"If you look at the income the Service has accrued over the past three years (about $3.5 billion), you have to wonder if this increase couldn't have been forestalled for a while longer."
But McHugh added that it was probably a logical time for the increase. He said the Postal Service will begin a $4.5 million capital-improvement project, including updated technology, to provide more efficient service.
McHugh's subcommittee will reintroduce legislation geared toward improving the process for increasing postal charges. The new format will allow for "greater predictability," he said, so businesses can better plan for upcoming increases.
Local businesses seem to be accepting this change without a lot of difficulty.
"It isn't going to have much of an impact on what we put in the mail stream," said Herbert Carpenter of Northeast Printing, which uses a lot of direct-mail advertising.
"Most of our mail is bar-coded, and that gives a person the best level of discount available."
Northeast Printing does a lot of bulk mailing, as well. Carpenter said there will be only slight changes in the cost of his bulk mailing. He will not make any changes in his mailing procedures.
World Warehouse and Distributing in Champlain will also continue to use the Postal Service in its business.
"I still look at how cheaply the Post Office mails envelopes out for us; it's still a good buy," said David Bray, president of World Warehouse, which packs and ships consumer goods across the nation and the world.
World Warehouse uses a lot of common carriers, such as United Parcel Service, Bray said, and the company is used to having annual increases in its shipping costs.
"We aren't a large bulk mailer. We send out bulk mail maybe three or four times a month. When you look at the big picture, this increase isn't that significant."
CVPH Medical Center uses a lot of first-class mail and has taken some steps to alleviate the cost increase.
"We do a significant dollar value in postage expense annually," said Jethro Stansbury, director of materials management at the hospital. "This increase will impact us about $4,000 or $5,000 a year.
"Our goal is to use more bulk mail. That will be less expensive for us."
The hospital used to send out blood-donor reminder cards with first-class mail but will now be using bulk mail for that. Also, customer-service surveys will now be handled through bulk, instead of first-class, mail.
The Post Office has 33-cent stamps available now, but consumers can also use one-cent stamps with any 32-cent stamp they use after the rate increase is in effect.
The Plattsburgh office still has some one-cent stamps, but supplies across the region are dwindling.
The 33-cent stamps are good for letters weighing an ounce or less. The cost for stamps for the second ounce will remain at 22 cents.
Postcard stamps will stay at 20 cents, though it will now cost 21 cents to purchase a postal card from the Post Office.
Priority Mail will increase from $3 to $3.20 for up to two pounds of mail.
Express Mail increases from $10.75 to $11.75 for eight ounces of mail.