Sticking the right stamp on your outgoing bills will become even more important next week.
Beginning Sunday, Jan. 8, postal rates and fees for U.S. mail will go up 5.4 percent across the board, and post office officials warn that some businesses will not accept postage-due mail.
The increase for the most common mail, first-class 1-ounce envelopes, will be an additional 2 cents.
"We're selling quite a lot of 2-cent stamps," said Lori Shewey, supervisor of customer service at the Payson post office.
"But a lot of people have also been coming in and buying the new stamp."
The new first-class 39-cent stamp bears the image of the Statue of Liberty holding her torch with the U.S. flag as a backdrop.
Shewey explained how the post office handles mail that does not have the correct postage.
"If it has any kind of postage due, it will be stamped "Postage Due" at the receiving end," Shewey said. "This means the receiver will be responsible for paying the difference."
But many companies will not accept letters requiring the payment of additional postage.
"If you are mailing bills, like electric, gas or cable, make sure you have the right amount of postage on the envelope to prevent them from being returned," Shewey said.
The governors of the U.S. Postal Service voted in November to accept the Postal Rate Commission's recommendations to increase rates.
The Jan. 8 rate increase -- the first since 2002 -- is needed to fulfill the requirement of a federal law passed in 2003. That law requires the Postal Service to establish a $3.1 billion escrow account, with use of the funds to be determined by Congress at a later date. Without the federal mandate, federal postal officials said the 2006 rate increase would not have been necessary.
"The governors take this action, mindful of our obligation to assure the financial integrity of the nation's postal system," said Jim Miller, chairman of the Postal Service's Board of Governors. "These increases will allow the Postal Service to meet the obligation established by Congress to place funds in escrow in 2006."
International rates, which are determined separately from domestic prices, will be adjusted to coincide with the domestic rate changes. International rates have not been adjusted since January 2001.
For more information, visit the U.S. Postal Service Web site at www.usps.com.