Beach Badge Fees Help Off-Set LBI Municipalities’ Related Costs
Charging residents and visitors beach admittance fees during the summer months is a hot-button issue for those who spend time at the Jersey Shore. But while some people are opposed to paying for beach badges every summer, many LBI officials argue that it costs a lot of money to care for the beaches every season. According to state law, shore municipalities are permitted to charge beach badge fees to fund the towns’ beach operating expenses.
“We can’t make a profit off it, and we can’t use it for other things. So we’re very judicious about how we use the money we raise,” Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney stated at a public town meeting Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Surf City’s beach revenue this year topped $582,362, which is $132,362 more than anticipated in the budget. Total expenses, however, came out to $582,566, for a deficit of $204. According to Hartney, it cost the general budget 1 cent per badge.
“We’re about as perfect as we can get,” he said. “We’re right where the law wants us to be. The operation pays for itself.”
In 2007, the town made 31 cents per badge, and in 2008 it made 13 cents per badge. The following years were all a deficit, as high as $1.54 per badge in 2010 and $2.94 per badge in 2013. Last year’s deficit came to 42 cents per badge.
Of the 33,993 total badges sold this summer, 14,376 were preseason badges, 1,820 were season badges, 3,153 were weekly badges and 14,644 were daily badges. Although the town sold 213 fewer weekly badges and 1,314 fewer daily badges in 2015, a total of 991 more badges were sold last year, including 460 more preseason badges and 94 more season badges.
Hartney thanked the borough’s department heads for managing the finances since the biggest part of the budget is payroll. The cost of the full-time employees’ health insurance is not included in the beach expenses, he noted.
“They would be here anyway, so that’s not an expense that’s pushed off onto the beaches,” Hartney stated.
Council has introduced an ordinance amendment to increase badge fees. If adopted, preseason badges would go up to $30, season badges would increase to $40 and weekly badges – which were increased to $19 this past year – would go up to $20.
For the first time, Surf City will be offering a limited number of holiday beach badges, which will be available first-come first-served at the new preseason price, Hartney noted.
Total beach revenue in Beach Haven this year was $483,180. This is a slight decrease from last year, when sales generated $496,686.
“The expenses – the cost of lifeguards, the cost of badge checkers and staffing – are basically the same,” said Richard Crane, borough manager. “We basically break even. Really that’s the way it’s supposed to work. There really is no change from year to year.”
Sales for the 2016 summer season included 8,909 preseason badges, 1,574 season badges, 2,957 weekly badges and 18,762 daily badges.
Beach badge revenues in Barnegat Light were $34,257 more than last year.
“That is partially because we raised some of the fees,” said Councilwoman Dottie Reynolds, who chairs the beaches and parks committee, at a recent borough council meeting.
In total, beach badge revenues were $250,101, as compared to $215,844 collected the summer before.
Total number of badges sold was 10,900, which is 44 more badges than last summer.
“We sold over 300 less season badges, but 300 more preseason badges were sold,” Reynolds said.
Long Beach Township this year recorded total beach badge sales of 77,613, which resulted in $1,644,926 in income. This represents an increase from 2015, in which total sales came in at 78,892 badges, or $1,565,075.
The breakdown of badges for the 2016 season is as follows: 41,932 season badges; 8,575 weekly badges; 21,853 daily badges; and 5,253 senior badges. In 2015, the breakdown was: 40,882 season badges; 7,713 weekly badges; 25,628 daily badges; and 4,669 senior badges.
In Ship Bottom, total beach revenue for 2016 was $739,092, according to Kathleen Flanagan, chief financial officer. That represented an increase of approximately $28,000 over 2015.
She said 16,211 seasonal badges sold for a total revenue of $515,042, while 1,731 senior badges sold added up to $17,310.
There were 2,021 weekly badges sold for a total revenue of $40,420, while 23,760 daily badges borough in $166,320.
In Harvey Cedars, beach badge revenues totaled $241,374, according to Chief Financial Officer Laura Cohen. Last year’s revenue totals were $236,077.
The total number of badges sold in 2016 was 11,758, compared to 11,353 the previous year.
— SandPaper staff