Taking care of their own: Commissary surcharge pays for new stores, renovations
Commissary shoppers don’t have far to look in their store to see the impact the surcharge has on their shopping experience.
That’s because the surcharge – the 5 percent added to every commissary customer’s receipt – goes directly back into the benefit, paying for the modernization and replacement of stores. It’s the funding source for maintenance and repairs, store equipment and store-level information technology systems, such as checkouts.
Just last year, the agency replaced well-worn stores with new, modern commissaries at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, and at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, that cost more than $74 million to build and equip, all paid by surcharge funds.
And, in just a few weeks, commissary shoppers at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, will enjoy the culmination of a two-year major renovation, called an “architectural and refrigeration upgrade,” that was also paid for by the surcharge. While not a new store, the project makes the store more environmentally friendly with the installation of new, more energy-efficient equipment and greatly improves the shopping experience.
“Our store has a whole new look and feel to it, a new layout that better accommodates the shopping pattern for our customers,” said Diolita Abel, the Tyndall store director. “For the first time we are now serving hot food such as rotisserie chicken, wings and other items, and our sushi, deli and bakery are all conveniently located together at the front of the store. These are all changes that better serve our customers who enjoy the selection and convenience, especially for the lunch rush.”
Here are a couple surcharge facts:
- It is not a tax. Surcharge dollars go back into stores, paying for the construction and modernization. In fiscal 2018, the surcharge budget is nearly $271 million.
- The surcharge has been set at 5 percent since 1983, and cannot be changed without congressional approval.
The surcharge’s history traces back to 1879 and features various applications and rates through the years leading up to 1983. Through the years, thanks to the surcharge, patrons have a direct role in sustaining and enhancing their commissary benefit.