Ship Bottom Senior Beach Badge Sales Unusually High, Decreases Seen in Other Areas

Aug 08, 2018

For the second consecutive year, beach badge math in Ship Bottom isn’t adding up. While the borough, the gateway community to LBI with arguably some of the most popular day-trip beaches in the area, has seen a decrease in daily and weekly badges sold, it’s experienced a higher than normal bump in senior badge sales.

“We noticed it a little last year,” Kathleen Flanagan, borough chief financial officer, said, adding everyone was paying closer attention to the issue this year.

In 2017, Ship Bottom reported revenue was down in most beach badge sales categories that summer, for a total of $12,137 less than what was in raised in 2016. Daily sales were down significantly, and weekly badge sales declined slightly. Seasonal and senior beach badge sales were higher than in 2016.

So far this summer, Flanagan has ordered more than 200 badges than she did at the the start of the 2017 badge season.

Every year Flanagan orders 1,700 senior badges, and up until last year that figure has worked out well for the borough. In 2017, she purchased an additional 162 for a total of 1,862 sold senior badges. As of Aug. 6, she purchased 27 more senior badges than last year’s total sold, and the summer isn’t over yet.

Although she acknowledged there is no surefire way to track senior badge sales, she and borough officials are committed to finding a better way in the future. Right now, identification is required to purchase a $10 senior badge, but the borough does allow family members to bring in identification for a parent or spouse who cannot withstand the trip to borough hall.

Flanagan, who is meticulous in her research, said she considered the adult communities in the area before coming to the conclusion that something was off with the higher number of senior badges. Senior badges are for 65 years of age and older. Most of the adult communities are for 55 years of age and older.

The borough sold pre-season badges, offered until May 31, for $30, with seasonal badges sold after that date at $40; weekly badges are $20 and daily badges are $7.

The first public mention of a larger than anticipated increase in senior badge sales came at the July borough council meeting. At that time, Council President Ed English reported the borough was down nearly $23,000 in overall beach badge sales from this time last year until July 24, the date of the most current council meeting, but there was a significant rise in senior badge sales this summer. Since then, the borough has collected nearly $15,000 in beach badge sales, Flanagan said.

“August is a strong month,” she said, noting there tends to be less rain than in July, which was a dry month this year despite the repeated predictions of unsettled weather from meteorologists who called for severe thunderstorms and scattered showers for the better part of the last three weeks, with little precipitation actually received.

Flanagan, who is also chief financial officer in Barnegat Light, said the Island’s northernmost community hasn’t had any issues with an uptick in senior badges.

“It’s mostly a residential community,” she said, noting it changes very little from summer to summer because most day-trippers are not going to drive to the far northern end of the Island.

Like most other Island communities, though, Barnegat Light has seen a decrease in beach badge sales as of its July meeting, according to Brenda Kuhn, borough administrator/clerk. And like Ship Bottom, senior badges are offered at a lower rate, $12, to those who qualify. They must show identification, she said.

In Harvey Cedars, officials say beach badge sales are down about $7,300 as of July. It’s unclear whether beach replenishment or the weather, or both, is a factor, according to Daina Dale, the municipal administrator.

With roughly a month left to the season, Surf City beach badge sales are down $18,651 due to the weather and beach replenishment, according to Michael Gross, chief financial officer. As of Aug. 1, the borough had sold 500 holiday badges, 15,335 seasonal, 1,536 weekly and 8,098 daily badges, he said.

— Gina G. Scala

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