PRC sets May 4 as new deadline for comments on flats

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The Postal Regulatory Commission has announced May 4 as the new deadline for submitting comments on its reconsideration of certain provisions of the current postal rate case.

The new deadline is a result of the PRC's order on two procedural motions affecting reconsideration of the rates for Standard Mail flats. The PRC granted a late notice of intervention filed by the Coalition of Catalog Mailers. However, it denied CCM's motion to reopen the 2006 postal rate case and supplement the record.

"Although the commission ruled to keep the record closed, we encourage parties and interveners, such as CCM, to present briefs with arguments based on the current evidence in the record," Dan G. Blair, chairman of the commission, said in a statement.

On Feb. 26, the PRC issued its recommended decision on the most recent omnibus rate case. On March 19, the governors of the U.S. Postal Service endorsed the PRC's rate recommendations with three limited exceptions: Standard Mail flat rates, Priority Mail Flat Rate Box and First-Class Mail nonmachinable letter surcharge.

On March 29, the PRC issued an order establishing procedures for further consideration of these issues and invited comments from interested parties with a deadline of April 12 for initial comments and April 19 for reply comments on the issues returned by the governors.

The CCM filed a motion on April 12 to delay the new rates for flats set to go into effect on May 14.

These deadlines were suspended, pending the resolution of CCM's procedural motions.

"CCM's request to reopen the record would likely prolong the process significantly and unfairly require parties that had participated in the case to expend additional resources," Mr. Blair said.

Mr. Blair referred to a section in the new order that says "reopening the record will most likely take this case well into late summer or early fall, which would run contrary to the stated goal of CCM - to obtain 'transitional rate relief' - since the rates in question are scheduled to go into effect on May 14, 2007."

In filing both initial comments and reply comments on the reconsideration of Standard Mail flats, the PRC said participants were invited to comment on this passage from the new order:

"Ordinarily, postal rates are viewed as a zero-sum situation. That is, if certain rates are reduced, other rates must increase to offset the loss in revenue. If the commission were to decide that Standard Mail flats rates were too high and that adjustments were necessary, specifically, which particular rate cells should be reduced, by how much, and why; which particular rate cells should be increased, by how much, and why."

The new ruling date of May 4 has been set as the filing deadline for initial comments on the closed record. May 11 is the filing date for reply comments.

The Direct Marketing Association said it has asked its members to submit letters telling the PRC how the unexpected and exorbitant increases proposed for Standard Flat Mail will affect their businesses.

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