MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Several News 19 viewers have reached out expressing their frustration about an additional fee being added to purchases made at retailers in the Clift Farm shopping center off of Highway 72.
The 3% development fee is being charged at all of the businesses in the development except for the Publix. Breland Homes is the developer of the Clift Farm mixed-use development. Joey Ceci, Breland Homes Spokesperson, said they are charging the fee to help pay for public infrastructure projects the company has had to undertake. Ceci said because the development is in unincorporated Madison County and not within either Huntsville or Madison city limits, necessary improvements, such as widening a lane of Highway 72, were left to Breland to complete.
Ceci said shoppers at Clift Farm businesses will actually pay less than shoppers in Huntsville or Madison city because city sales tax is not applied to purchases made at Clift Farm.
By comparison, Huntsville and Madison city businesses must charge a total of 9% sales tax. Sales tax in Clift Farm, which is unincorporated Madison County, is only 5.5%. Now, with the addition of the 3% development fee, shoppers at Clift Farm will pay 8.5% in fees on top of the purchase price.
However, the decision for Clift Farm to remain in unincorporated Madison County, and therefore forego city assistance with infrastructure projects, was left up to Breland Homes, according to Madison County District 4 Commissioner Phil Vandiver.
“They have availability to join Madison or availability to join Huntsville. At this time, they have chosen not join either one,” said Vandiver.
One customer we spoke with did not want to give his name, but said that he would rather pay the .5% more in city sales tax than the 3% development fee that goes to Breland Homes.
Because Breland Homes signed an agreement with Publix before the fee was imposed, the development fee will not apply to purchases made at Publix. As for the rest of the businesses, Ceci says the fee will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.