On Sunday the United States Postal Service will raise the cost of first class stamps 3 cents, from 34 to 37 cents.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, the increase will cost the average household 45 cents a month. However, businesses and organizations that do a lot of mailing may feel the increase in their operating costs.

"I'd guess we send close to 1,000 pieces a month," said George Segarini, president and cheif executive officer of the Tuolumne County Chamber of Commerce. Segarini anticipates the increase will cost his organization an extra $50 a month.

"We increased last year's budget with the assumption prices would go up," said Segarini.

The chamber does ask people who request relocation packages to help cover the cost of postage, but Segarini says the chamber doesn't really have a way of making up the increase.

Other businesses, according to Segarini, have the choice to increase their prices or just take the setback.

The recent rate changes were approved by the Board of Governors on Sept. 10, 2001, before the attack on Sept. 11, a reason many assumed the prices had gone up.

"It's not directly linked to 9-11," said Sonora Post Office Supervisor Steve Sigler. "But there were huge costs associated with 9-11."

Postal operations are not federally funded and are not subsidized by tax dollars. This means the U.S. Postal Service must rely on sales to operate. However, Congress has recently approved $675 million for 9-11 losses and to help pay for sanitizing government mail.

"In order to keep up with inflation, we have to have increases," said Alma Jenkins, the head window clerk at the San Andreas post office.

With first class stamps rising 3 cents, books of 20 stamps will go from $6.80 to $7.40; an increase of 60 cents. Post card stamps will also rise from 21 cents to 23 cents. Certified mail, certificates of mailing and other fees will be increased as well.

"I don't really think the increase will effect the local community," said Jenkins. "Most people have been positive about it."