A proposed increase in beach fees for Margate and Ventnor is on hold due to uncertainty about whether shore towns will be allowed to continue charging for access.
The proposed ordinance would have raised the price of preseason badges from $7 to $10, senior preseason badges from $3.50 to $5 and seasonal badges from $15 to $20.
However, the Margate Board of Commissioners has postponed introducing the ordinance until the fate of a state Senate bill banning beach fees in many towns is determined.
The bill, co-sponsored by state Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Hunterdon, Warren, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, would ban beach fees in towns that receive federal or state funds for beach replenishment following Hurricane Sandy.
“I support the small increase in the beach fees,” Commissioner of Public Works Brenda Taube said. “Ventnor and Margate have the lowest rates of all New Jersey beaches, and I support what our CFO and business administrator recommended at previous meetings. (But) I’m OK with waiting.”
In addition to the delay in the fee increase, Margate also approved a resolution opposing the Doherty-Sweeney bill.
“I think all of us, all beach-fee collector (towns), are in opposition to it,” Margate Mayor Mike Becker said. “It’s fairly universal.”
Ventnor, which had been waiting on Margate before approving its own increase, will now hold off as well, Mayor Mike Bagnell said. The two cities sell beach tags good in both cities, although the funds raised from purchases are separate.
“If we raised our fees and they didn’t raise theirs, no one would buy them in Ventnor,” Bagnell said. “It would defeat the whole purpose of having tags.”
Bagnell added that while Ventnor has not taken official action in opposition to the state beach fee bill, he was planning to speak to state legislators.
“The burden is heavily on Ventnor taxpayers without beach fees,” Bagnell said. “It’s just like the expressway. Our tax dollars pay for that, and yet we have to pay to go on them.”
Brigantine also has passed an ordinance opposing the Doherty-Sweeney bill, with Mayor Phil Guenther saying the city stands to lose more than $500,000 in revenue “at a time when we’re going to need all the revenue we can get to support the budget this year.”
“At this point, we’re hoping the bill does not go through,” he said.
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