20 cents stamps in time for Christmas

"The presses are already grinding" out new 20-cent stamps which will be required first-class postage beginning Nov. 1 -- just in time for the heavy Christmas mailing season -- the Postal Service announced.

At 18 cents a lick -- the first-class rate for the past five months -- the Postal Service says it lost almost $126 million. But it says the move to a 20 -cent stamp should forestall postal increases for two years.

Wednesday's action marked the first time the board of governors of the service approved a general increase without going through the independent Postal Rate Commission. The commission had turned down a request from the board for a 20-cent first-class stamp. It took a unanimous vote by the board to put through the increase on its own.

Postmaster General William Bolger said the increase would bring in about $1 billion in additional revenue and allow the service to break even for the next fiscal year.

There will also be changes in other postal rates. The basic post card rate will go from 12 cents to 13 cents, and express mail will start at $5.85, compared with the current $5.30.

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