SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Concerns Expressed Over Postal Rate Increases
Prices to Change on May 11


March 04, 2009

(SitNews) - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin today urged the postmaster general not to increase parcel post and bypass mail rates. In a letter to Postmaster General John Potter, Governor Palin outlined her concerns regarding the rate increases that are to be enacted on May 11.

"Alaska has more than 258 airports serving as the primary mode of transportation, and the only means of access for more than 160 remote and isolated communities, wrote Palin in the letter to Potter. " Our rural residents have been besieged by a poor subsistence harvest and high energy prices compounded by an exceptionally cold winter. Although it may not be the intent, the new 4th class mail rate structure will raise the already high cost of living further and effectively cripple the already fragile bypass mail system."

Palin wrote, "Residents of the most remote parts of our state are struggling with high fuel prices and the ability to provide food for their families. This postal rate increase has an exponentially greater impact on Alaskans than those in other states due to the reliance of Alaskans on the bypass mail system for food and supplies. Please take this into account before making any final decision on increasing parcel post rates that are utilized under the essential bypass mail system."

The Governors of the U.S. Postal Service approved new prices for mailing services, including a 2-cent increase in the price of a First-Class Mail stamp to 44 cents. Prices for mailing services are reviewed annually and adjusted each May. The new prices will go into effect Monday, May 11.

Customers can continue to mail letters at today's prices by purchasing the Forever Stamp before May 11. Forever Stamps were developed to help consumers ease the transition during price changes. Forever Stamps do not have a denomination and will be honored whenever they are used with no need for additional postage for a one-ounce letter mailing. On May 11 the price of the Forever Stamp will be 44 cents.

Rising operational costs make the price adjustments necessary; the increase tracks the 2008 rate of inflation. "The Postal Service is not immune to rising costs which are affecting homes and businesses across America today," said Postmaster General John Potter. "Even with the increases, the Postal Service continues to offer some of the lowest postage prices in the world."

Alaska's Congressional Delegation also sent a letter to Postmaster General Potter on Monday to express their concern with the pending rate increases and their effect on the Alaska bypass mail system.

"Rural Alaskans are being hit very hard by the economic downturn we have faced this past year," said Rep. Don Young (R-AK). "Receiving basic goods is not the same in the villages of Alaska as it is in most areas of the Lower 48. People that live in these areas are having a hard enough time making ends meet and these price increases will only make things more difficult. I ask the Postmaster General to please give this situation careful consideration before making his final decision."

"While I recognize the Postal Service lost a significant amount of revenue last year, bypass mail is the lifeblood of rural Alaska," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said. "It moves most of the consumable goods and has stabilized the cost of living in rural Alaska. We must find a way to keep the costs down while still providing the same level of service. I am committed to working with the Postal Service, shippers and the communities to find ways to save money and gain efficiencies without making the cost of living in rural Alaska even higher."

"I have heard from individuals and communities across Alaska who are worried about the potential impacts of this postal increase. On top of the already record-high prices they are paying for basics like food and fuel, this increase will just be too much," Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) said. "It would be devastating to many rural communities that rely on bypass mail. We need to find a way to lower the cost and keep bypass mail viable."


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Office of the Governor

United States Postal Service


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska