Extra fees will help pay for projects

Published 2:57 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The City of Andalusia will recoup some of its forthcoming investment in downtown Andalusia through taxes and fees assessed in a newly formed entertainment district.

Formally known as a Capital Improvement Cooperative District of the City of Andalusia, the district was formed under the Code of Alabama, 11-99B-1.

“There are districts like this for different purposes all over the state of Alabama,” Mayor Earl Johnson said. “The nearest one is in Evergreen.”

Johnson explained that in Evergreen the recent development of the northeast corner of the Interstate exit is the location of the district.

“The city built all of those facilities and they are leasing them to tenants,” Johnson said. “Tenants pay rent, and operate their business. But the city can charge additional fees and taxes to recoup their costs.

“What’s interesting, in Evergreen, is places like McDonald’s and Hardees, who have been in business there for years and years, voted to go in the district. The reasoning was, the more that’s done with the district, the more opportunities there’ll be for people getting off interstate to go in the district, and to stop and eat.”

The city’s lease agreements with Big Mike’s Restaurant and Clark Theatres, both of whom will benefit from renovations done to buildings owned by the city, require them to be members of the district. Other businesses would not be affected unless they opted to join.

“The expectation is there will be additional fees assessed by the district on ticket sales and meals,” Johnson said. “The city will have an agreement with the district, and the cash flow of the district will come back to the city.”

Johnson said there are other prospects looking at the downtown area that would “fit in this model.”