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Q: When are stamps going up from 37 to 39 cents and why?

A: Postal rates go up Jan. 8, 2006.

Azeezaly S. Jaffer, vice president, United States Postal Service Public Affairs and Communications, wrote the following in a Dec. 21 letter to the editor of the Madison Courier:

"The current increase was the result of an unusual rate setting process in which all parties agreed to a negotiated settlement so as to allow the Postal Service to raise rates for all classes uniformly, across-the-board, by 5.4 percent.

"The reason for this was the rate increase was compelled by legislation enacted in 2003 requiring the Postal Service to put over $3 billion each year, beginning in 2006, into an escrow account that could not be used for operations. Efforts to change the escrow requirement have been stalled in Congress. Without the escrow requirement, postage rates most likely would have remained at current levels for another year."

The full text of this editorial may be viewed at www.usps.com/communications/news/strs.htm

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