ST. JOHNS, Fla. – Many shoppers at a new St. Johns County Walmart left the store wondering why they have not one, but two taxes on their receipt -- the 6.5 percent county sales tax and another 0.5 percent "tax."
A "tax 1" and a "tax 2" can be seen on receipts from the Walmart that opened Wednesday at The Pavilion at Durbin Park, a 1,600-acre, mixed-use development in northern St. Johns County near Interstate 95 at the new 9B interchange.
The first tax is St. Johns County's 6.5 percent sales tax. In front of the second tax is "PIF," which stands for public infrastructure fee, according to the county.
The county stresses it is not a tax, but a fee. Although the receipt says tax, the county says it's working with developers and retailers to make sure future receipts say "fee" instead of "tax."
A tax is generally revenue that can cover general costs of government, while a fee is generally revenue meant to pay for a specific government program or service.
In this case, the county says, it will pay for infrastructure projects in the area of the fast-growing Durbin Park.
Many customers told News4Jax on Friday that they didn't know about the 0.5 percent fee. Others said they learned through Facebook. Harlan and Joan Rector said more notice about the fee may have been nice, but they don't mind paying it.
"It's not going to kill anybody I don't think," Harlan Rector said. "You got to pay for all this new stuff coming in. We’re just thrilled that they’re finally going to maybe be opening up this whole town center thing."
The county says the fee is utilized to help fund transportation improvements associated with the Durbin Park mall and mixed-use development.
On Friday afternoon, Michael Ryan, director of communications for St. Johns County, sent News4Jax the following statement, saying the feel is a half-cent and it will go away once all the infrastructure is paid off:
The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners approved creation of the Durbin Park Community Development District, but did not authorize or impose a fee or tax. The CDD has the sole authority to impose the Public Infrastructure Fee, which was unfortunately mislabeled as a tax on sales receipts from a retailer within Durbin Park. The tax rate within the county remains 6.5% and no funds collected from the CDD are received by the County. St. Johns County has requested that the fee be labeled correctly on future receipts in order to provide transparency and ensure patrons clearly understand who is collecting the fee and for what purpose."