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What's a PIF and why am I paying for it?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - PIF stands for Public Improvement Fee, and you may have seen it as an extra charge on a receipt when shopping around Colorado Springs or going out for dinner.

It's not a tax, like some think it is. This fee does not come from the city, and it does not come from the store. The PIF is taken by the developer, or the landlord, of the property.

For example, at the Shoppes at South Nevada near Motor City, there is a Chick-fil-A, Zoe's Kitchen, and Natural Grocers. At all of these establishments, there is a 2 percent PIF. That means whatever you spend on dinner or groceries, you'll pay an additional 2 percent fee on top of the sales tax. 

All three businesses in that area tell FOX21 they receive complaints about the PIF every day. They simply try to explain to the customer that it was put into place by the landlord, not the store itself. 

We got a copy of the information booklet about PIFs given to the shops. It says the purpose of the PIF is to "find public improvements and other eligible costs associated with redevelopment and revitalization of the shopping center and surrounding areas." 

The City of Colorado Springs told us this is not a fee which voters approved, nor does it have anything to do with the city's government. It is simply up to the landlord who owns that property.

We spoke to a family who eats at that Chick-fil-A regularly, who didn't know about the PIF until we told them. 

"I feel a little cheated, and I don't love that I feel like it's a surprise," Tiffany Dyre said. "We were unaware of it." 

The Shoppes on South Nevada aren't the only place you can expect to find a PIF around town. They are also found at First and Main on Powers Boulevard and the Interquest Parkway shops, among other places. At First and Main, the PIF is 0.75 percent.

We asked each of the businesses in the Shoppes at South Nevada to talk to us on camera, but per corporate policy, they couldn't. We also reached out to the landlord for comment, but haven't received a call back. 


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