01/01/06 — Price of postage going up on Jan. 8

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Price of postage going up on Jan. 8

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 1, 2006 2:01 AM

Starting Jan. 8, the price of a first-class postage stamp will increase two cents.

Wayne County businesses and government agencies have already begun recalculating their office budgets to accommodate the new 39-cent stamp.

Postmaster Randy Turnage at the downtown Postal Service office in Goldsboro said many people have already begun to buy the new stamps in anticipation of the increase. Others have wanted to know if there will be enough two-cent stamps available to add to the old stamps they already have.

"We ordered a large quantity of two-cent stamps. We should have plenty for Wayne County," Turnage said.

The new stamps went on sale the week before Christmas. Signs in the lobby of the office and the Berkeley Station branch explain the increase.

Although Wayne County government offices did not include the increase in stamp prices in their budgets, county Finance Officer Norman Ricks said he doesn't expect any problems. The county sets aside money every year for unexpected expenses and departments will have to re-figure their budgets for the extra two cents.

"Thank goodness we have a contingency fund balance," Ricks said. The county can adjust for the increase when a new budget is approved in July, he said.

Ricks said county officials are looking for ways to reduce the amount of mail generated.

For example, he said, the tax department has cut back on the number of notices it sends out to delinquent taxpayers.

"We definitely try to conserve as much as possible," Ricks said.

Officials with the city of Goldsboro have less leeway in reducing postage because the city has to send out utility bills each month. But city Finance Director Richard Durham said city officials anticipated the postage increase when putting together the 2005-2006 budget.

"There is a certain amount that has to be mailed out," Durham said. "There's not a whole lot we can do to control that. Everyone has to have a utility bill."

Based on his department's calculations, Durham said he believes the stamp increase will cost the city $1,560 over the next six months. Until then, he said, it will be difficult to limit the amount of postage mailed.

Progress Energy officials said the increase in the stamp price would cost them about $250,000 over the next year but that the cost would be absorbed by the company and not passed on to consumers. Spokesman Dana Yeganian said Progress Energy is encouraging customers to pay their bills online.

Not every company can afford to absorb the entire cost of the stamp hike. Most will just have to wait and see how the increase will effect their monthly budgets.

Charles Jones is manager of Jenkins Gas Co. in Mount Olive. His company mails hundreds of bills each month.

Jones said businesses have to consider expenses when determining customer rates. The increase in stamp prices isn't welcome, he said, but businesses learn to expect increases in operating costs.

"It's one of those things you can't do anything about," Jones said.