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Stamp prices rise Monday

Mailing a letter to Grandma and paying the bills will cost a few more pennies Monday when the cost of stamps increases to 41 cents. About a year after the last increase, stamp prices are climbing another 2 cents from the current rate of 39 cents....

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Mailing a letter to Grandma and paying the bills will cost a few more pennies Monday when the cost of stamps increases to 41 cents.

About a year after the last increase, stamp prices are climbing another 2 cents from the current rate of 39 cents. Customers will also see higher fees for other mailing services.

Prices are climbing for "the same reason everything else is going up," said Teresa Rudkin, a Denver spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service.

"It's just becoming more expensive for us to operate," she said. "Things like fuel and health costs ... the same things that are skyrocketing for everybody else are causing our prices to increase."

The last time stamp prices increased due to operating costs was five years ago, Rudkin said.

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The increase from 37 cents to 39 cents in January 2006 occurred because Congress required the U.S. Postal Service to create a $3 billion escrow account, she said.

All of Monday's postal rate changes won't be more expensive for consumers, however.

Mailing a 2-ounce letter will be 58 cents instead of 63 cents. Under a new pricing strategy, prices don't increase as much as mail pieces become heavier.

Individuals and businesses can also save money through shape-based pricing, which assesses different processing costs based on the shape of the item.

The U.S. Postal Service is also issuing Forever Stamps, Rudkin said. The value on these stamps will always be the 1-ounce letter price and can be used for future 1-ounce letter mailing without extra postage.

Fargo and Moorhead postal employees said Friday they have received numerous calls about the upcoming changes. People are more curious than complaining.

"I think with the price of gas and everything, people understand," said Carolyn Haase, delivery supervisor at Fargo's Prairiewood Post Office.

During the Friday noon hour, a few Moorhead Post Office customers waiting in line said they weren't upset about the increases. Some say they may do more electronic mailing, if possible.

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"Some stuff still has to go snail mail, so you're stuck with it," said Glenn Hangaard of Forman, N.D.

Moorhead Postmaster Patty Bedore said postal clerks have been notifying customers of the changes to "try to make it a smooth transition for everyone."

Additional information about the new prices is available at www.usps.com/prices .

Post office facts

- The U.S. Postal Service visits 146 million homes and businesses, six days a week.

- It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to cover operating expenses.

- The Postal Service has annual revenues of $73 billion and delivers nearly half of the world's mail.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560

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