Wildwood considering beach fees to close budget gap
January 4, 2013By Tom MacDonald
One of the few remaining free beaches in New Jersey might be charging fees this year.
Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano says those who live full time and pay taxes in the seaside community will have the final say on whether to charge beach fees.
"We really are put into a situation that we don't have a choice but to let it go to a question," said Troiano. "Our finances have pushed us to make this hard decision and it's hard for us to even put it on the ballot, but it's something that the voting taxpayer of the city of Wildwood is going to have to make the decision."
Troiano says residents will have to choose between paying higher taxes or starting to sell beach tags. He says each resident would have to pay 100 dollars to cover the beach cleaning and maintenance budget this year.
"We're looking for some help here, we don't want to be the guys who just killed the free beach, it's economics, nothing is getting cheaper in this world and the economy isn't helping," he said.
If approved, Troiano says it has not been determined how much beach tags would cost.
The move comes while towns that already charge to get on the sand are under pressure to stop doing so if they want state or federal dollars to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy. New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester County) says it's not right for towns to keep charging for beach access if they are asking taxpayers elsewhere to help replenish the sand.
Bills to ban beach tags have existed in the New Jersey legislature for decades, only to die each session. Typically they have won support only from individual lawmakers, usually not in leadership. The one Sweeney is sponsoring has not had a hearing yet.