‘Snail mail’ slugging Lismore council $50k

AUSTRALIA Post's more expensive, slower system dubbed 'snail mail' is denting the budgets of some Northern Rivers businesses by up to $50,000 a year.

On January 4, Australia Post announced the basic postage rate that applies to the regular postage service jumped from 70 cents to $1, with customers now having the choice to use regular or priority post.

Attracting a 50 cent charge, the priority letter service offers delivery within one to four business days depending on destination, while the regular service is up to two business days longer than priority.

A Lismore City Council spokesman said as the law hadn't caught up with technology council was facing $50,000 in extra postage costs this year.

The spokesman said this was due to it being illegal to email rates notices, water bills and development documents.

"Council is very happy with the delivery of its Local Matters newsletter which is delivered to ratepayers by Australia Post," the spokesman said.

A Richmond Valley Council spokeswoman said council was yet to quantify the economic impact of the changes.

"Council recently had two large mail outs - 2684 letters in the first, followed by 1634 - letters to recover outstanding dog registrations.

"Due to the volume, standard postage was used, and the delivery time was quite delayed.

"The letters had a response time of 21 days which we have had to extend due to the long delivery time.

"Thus, follow up letters have had to be pushed back to allow extra time for initial response."

Byron Shire Council's corporate and community services director, Mark Arnold, said increased postage costs had resulted in about a $20,000 jump in sending out rates and water notices.

On the issue of delivery, he said that there have been reports of mail taking up to ten days to arrive.

"When people are waiting for development notifications, this can been very frustrating and has seen an increase in customer service enquiries asking when they can expect their notice," Mr Arnold said.

"Unfortunately we can't change post delivery times but we are looking for other ways to make online payments and information lodgement easier."

Residents and businesses will continue to pay increased postage costs, with Australia Post announcing last week that price changes will take effect for annual fees on return paid parcels, and for certain packaging products.