Washington — Say goodbye to those pesky 1- and 2-cent stamps that used to clutter up desks and purses every time the price of mailing a letter went up.
A new "forever" stamp - good no matter how much rates rise - was recommended Monday by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.
The panel also called for a 2-cent increase in first-class rates to 41 cents, a penny less than the post office had sought.
In addition, the changes would sharply scale back the price of heavier mail.
A forever stamp would not carry a denomination, but would sell for whatever the first-class rate was at the time.
For example, if the 41-cent rate takes effect, forever stamps would sell for 41 cents. If rates later climbed to 45 cents or more, the price of the forever stamp also would go up at the counter or machine, but those purchased before the change still would be valid to mail a letter.
So there would be no need to buy small-denomination stamps to add to envelopes.
Currently, first-class mail costs 39 cents for the first ounce and 24 cents for each additional ounce.
While the first ounce would rise to 41 cents under the proposal, it would cost just 17 cents for each additional ounce.
That means the price of sending a 2-ounce letter actually would decrease from 63 cents to 58 cents.
The proposal also recommended a 2-cent boost, to 26 cents, in the cost of mailing a post card, also a penny less than the Postal Service had sought.
The matter now goes back to the board of governors of the post office, which can accept the recommendations or ask for reconsideration. If accepted, the new rates could take effect as soon as May.
Postage rates last went up in January 2006.