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Investing in the benefit

Surcharge helps renovate, build, maintain commissaries

FORT LEE, Va. (April 24, 2017) – The commissary surcharge, the 5 percent added to every customer's bill to build, modernize and maintain commissary facilities, continues to serve its purpose as the Defense Commissary Agency begins implementing its business transformation this year.

"At DeCA, we are making significant changes to help maintain current patron savings while improving the shopping experience and reducing our operating costs," said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu. "However, these changes do not affect the surcharge amount, which continues to allow patrons to invest in the construction of new and the renovation of old commissaries."

The surcharge, established by Congress, has been part of the commissary benefit since 1879. In 2001, Congress limited the use of surcharge for the construction of replacement stores, renovations, maintenance and repairs of existing stores, and purchasing equipment and store-level information technology systems such as checkouts.

Over the years there were various increases and decreases in the surcharge rate. The surcharge has been 5 percent since 1983.

The impact of the surcharge is highly visible. In early April, a new $38 million commissary, the largest in DeCA, opened at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. In February, a new $36 million commissary opened at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, and in 2016, a new $26 million commissary opened at Spangdahlem Air Base Germany.

Today's stores are more environmentally friendly and provide shopping amenities that were unattainable in the heavily used facilities they replaced.

There has always been confusion over the surcharge being referred to as a tax, according to DeCA Historian Dr. Pete Skirbunt.

"It's not a tax," Skirbunt said. "With the surcharge, commissary customers through their purchases help maintain key aspects of the commissary benefit, while continuing to enjoy a high level of savings on what they buy."

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons save thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to commercial prices when shopping regularly at a commissary. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America's military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Media Contact:
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773

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