WASHINGTON -- Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank's 20-month quest for a 30-cent first-class postage stamp ended in defeat yesterday when the Postal Service's board of governors refused to raise the basic rate from 29 cents.
Six of the nine governors voted to approve the proposed "correction" in the cost of mailing a first-class letter, but the 1970 law that mandated the present pay-as-you go Postal Service system requires a unanimous vote to raise rates.
Mr. Frank initially had sought a 30-cent first-class rate in March 1990, when the basic rate was still 25 cents. Instead, the Postal Rate Commission approved a 4-cent increase in January 1991.
As a result of yesterday's action, the past pattern of raising rates about every three years will continue, Mr. Frank said at a news conference.
"If we'd gotten that 30 cents, I believe . . . that we would have had only one more rate increase this decade or this century. That is no longer possible," Mr. Frank said. "But I think we're back on a three-year cycle, which is not bad. We can be looking for a postage rate increase in January or February of 1994."
Pressed by reporters to speculate on how large the next rate increase will be, Mr. Frank suggested an increase of 3 to 5 cents, which he said would be roughly in line with a probable rate of inflation of about 4 percent a year.