PUBLISHED: 1:46 PM on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
That will be 39 cents please
Area residents are beginning to line up to purchase the new 39-cent first-class stamps now available.

Postmaster Jim Wagner reminds his patrons to be ready.

Wagner said effective Sunday, Jan. 8, the U.S. Postal Service raised its rates 5.4 percent. Among the adjustments is a two-cent jump from 37 cents to 39 cents in the single-piece rate for first class mail up to one ounce. Postcards will go up a penny to 24 cents.

The price change, the first since 2002, isn't driven by Postal Service losses -- Wagner said it's the law.

A law passed in 2003 requires the USPS to establish a $3.1 billion escrow account, with use of the funds to be determined by Congress at a later date. Without this federal mandate, it would not have been necessary to raise rates in 2006.

A new 39-cent stamp and supplementary 2-cent stamps are on sale now. The 39-cent non-denominated first-class definitive stamp features the Statue of Liberty and the American flag. The 2-cent stamp features a Navajo silver and turquoise necklace.

International rates, determined separately from domestic prices, also changed Jan. 8 for the first time since 2001. The international increase averages 5.9 percent.

When adjusted for inflation the price of a first-class stamp is the same today as it was in 1971 when the Postal Service was created. The service has not received taxpayer dollars for operations since 1982.

Other new rates include (old rates in parenthesis):

• First-class letter (two ounce) -- 63 cents (61 cents)

• Priority mail (one pound) -- $4.05 ($3.85)

• Express mail (one-half pound) -- $14.40 ($13.65)

• Express mail (two pounds) -- $18.80 ($17.85)

• Certified mail -- $2.40 ($2.30)

• Delivery confirmation (priority) -- 50 cents (40 cents)

• Deliver y confirmation (first-class parcels) -- 60 cents (55 cents)

• Return receipt (original signature) -- $1.85 ($1.75)

• Return receipt (electronic) -- $1.35 ($1.30)

• Money orders (up to $500) -- 95 cents (90 cents)