At the same time that a ban on beach fees is being considered in Trenton, Margate and Ventnor are proposing increasing some beach badge fees for the 2013 season and beyond.
Margate Mayor Mike Becker said that an ordinance increasing certain fees could be introduced at the Thursday Board of Commissioners meeting. Ventnor Mayor Mike Bagnell said the Ventnor board, which has also discussed an increase publicly, would follow.
Margate and Ventnor sell dual beach badges good in both cities, though each keeps the revenue from badges sold in its town
“I sat down with the mayor of Ventnor and came up with a small increase we thought was reasonable,” Becker said. “The CFO also recommended we do this.”
In 2012, 43,887 badges were sold in Margate, bringing in more than $320,000, a 9 percent increase over 2011 — though there were 3,000 badges unaccounted for that year. In Ventnor, $196,000 in badges were sold in 2012, a six percent decrease from 2011.
“Last year, we were a little short in the lifeguard account and we couldn’t put as many on the beaches as we could in past years,” Becker said. “After Labor Day we had to shut down pretty much, after one week. Hopefully this will allow us to do it longer.”
Becker said the weekly fee would stay the same, $10, but pre-season badges would increase from $7 to $10, senior pre-season badges would increase from $3.50 to $5 and seasonal badges would increase from $15 to $20.
Bagnell said Ventnor would wait until Margate passes its ordinance before going forward.
“Once they get theirs finished, we’ll follow suit so it’s the same numbers,” Bagnell said. “It wouldn’t make sense if one charges more than the other.”
Bagnell added that the Atlantic County Mayors Association recently sent a letter to Gov. Chris Christie’s office opposing the proposed state bill that would prevent cities that receive federal or state funds for beach replenishment following Hurricane Sandy from charging beach fees.
“We’re going to be working on getting the governor’s ear about not signing the bill if it lands on his desk,” Bagnell said. “It’s totally unfair to the seashore community. The rationalization is flawed. Our taxpayers still foot 25 percent of the cost of beachwork and dune replenishment, and we also have to maintain the beach and pay lifeguards to protect the beach. ... Beach badges help defray that cost.”
The Margate ordinance was postponed from being introduced at the Dec. 6 meeting by opposition from Commissioner Maury Blumberg, who said in an email that “while I believe beach fees are a necessary evil in our town, they should only be used to supplement our costs and in no way attempt to cover the costs to hire lifeguards or clean the beaches. I see no reason why we need to get greedy and impose a new tax on our residents, no matter how small.”
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