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The largest postal rate increase in a decade will go into effect Sunday, leaving some local bulk mailers wondering how to amend their spending plans.

The Postal Regulatory Commission has approved a two-year hike for several mail classes, increasing the cost to send a first-class letter by 3 cents to 49 cents.

Bartholomew County Clerk Tami Hines said her office sends out about 3,000 pieces of mail per month, and she hopes she will not need to ask the county for more money for postage.

That’s $90 per month, if you’re doing the math.

“We didn’t know about the increase in July when we made the budget,” she said.

Hines said she can’t cut corners and mail two or three documents together because much of the mail is legal documents. But her office is finding other ways to save. Bartholomew County uses a provider other than the U.S. Postal Service to send certified mail.

“We certainly will continue to think outside the box and look for ways to cut costs for taxpayers,” she said.

But as private businesses shift communications to the Internet and regular post office customers stock up on Forever stamps, the increase’s impact isn’t quite so painful.

Sande Hummel, a clerk at the Columbus post office, said she has not heard a single complaint.

“Overall, people are OK with the increases,” she said. “People think, ‘Well, it’s about time, maybe this will help.’”

The hike is intended to boost the U.S. Postal Services’ revenue by $2.8 billion over two years to recoup losses from the recession. The Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year and is expecting to record a loss of about $6 billion in the current fiscal year.

Hummel said most people have been buying Forever stamps, which are nondenominational First Class postage that can be used no matter when the postal rate increases.

“People have been especially inspired to buy the stamps because of the change,” she said. “If you buy 100 stamps, you’ll save $3 when the increase kicks in.”

Some bulk mailers, rather than stocking up on hundreds of books of Forever stamps, are opting to change habits.

Even Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., which once mailed report cards, lunch money notices and other school information to parents, is not anticipating a big hit from the increase.

Superintendent John Quick said nearly all inter-school communications can be sent via email or fax, and teachers use an online portal to share information with parents.

Although Hummel said her customers have been mostly receptive to the increase, there’s at least one local senior who is not.

Emma Pressler asked her son to buy her a computer when the price for a single stamp passed the 35-cent mark. Now she pays all her bills online and has helped her three sisters set up email accounts to keep in touch.

“Making it more expensive won’t help them,” she said. “More people will just do what I did and find free ways to communicate and pay.”

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