Postage increase

by Jeremy Taff

If postal rates increase as planned, the University stands to spend an extra $200,000 per year on postage.
The Postal Rate Commission recommended last week to increase first-class stamps by one cent, in line with the rate of inflation. Standard rates, which the University uses the most, would jump 18.5 percent.
Rate hikes are not finalized yet, so nonprofit groups calling themselves “The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers” are banding together to lobby the Postal Board of Governors to reject the measure when it votes in June. An increase wouldn’t go into effect until 1999.
“This stuff is still proposed,” said Neil Grass, executive assistant for addressing and mailing. “I’ve seen it take some strange twists.”
There are three categories of mail rates at the University: first class, nonprofit/standard and periodical.
Under the proposal before the Postal Board of Governors, first class rates would rise to 33 cents, standard rates would increase 2.5 cents to 16 cents and periodical rates would jump 2.8 cents to 25.4 cents.
Annually, the University’s addressing and mailing department sends out about 7 million pieces of mail at nonprofit/standard rates and 3 million pieces at first-class and periodical rates. It spends $4 million per year on postage.
“That doesn’t count the different departments at the University mailing out their own U.S. mail,” Grass said.
Postal increases would be the most visible in departments like the University’s Office of the Bursar, which relies heavily on mass mailings. The addressing and mailing office bills the bursar for every item it sends out.
The bursar’s office mails out about 40,000 tuition bills every quarter through the addressing and mailing office at a first-class, bulk mail rate of 26.1 cents. The proposed rate increase would cost the University about $560 per quarter on tuition bills alone.
And offsetting the postage hike by sending out fewer pieces is easier said than done.
“We can’t cut back on the number of tuition bills and student loan (mail) we send out,” said Patricia Roth, senior administrative director for the bursar’s office.
The new rates were supposed to go into effect at the beginning of 1998, but the postal service decided to delay the action.
“The post office got so much business from the UPS strike they put it off another year,” Grass said.
But Diane Williams, manager of Corporate Relations for the United States Postal Service, denies the strike had anything to do with the decision.
Williams said the postal commission takes 10 months to decide after rate hikes are proposed. “We notified them 10 months before last week. (The strike) wouldn’t have fit in the time frame,” she said.