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Thread: The Beach Badge Controversey

  1. #1
    New Jersey Ambassador Admin & Founder JerseyDevil's Avatar
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    Default The Beach Badge Controversey

    This editorial was in the Star ledger on July 6th...

    Burning question at the beach

    Before heading down the Shore, you might want to read Public Advocate Ron Chen’s second annual New Jersey Beach Guide. It’s a handy guide for day-trippers trying to decide whether to get off the Parkway at Belmar, continue to Seaside Heights or go all the way to Ship Bottom.

    A convenient single-page chart including all 48 Shore towns spells out whether beaches have lifeguards, restrooms, showers and changing rooms and if you can eat while sitting in your chair on the sand.

    One more thing. The guide (www. state.nj.us/publicadvocate) lists what each town charges for a daily beach badge.

    All of this is designed to ‘‘illuminate’’ the range of fees, as Chen puts it. We’d like to see a little light on these questions: If each town calculates what it costs to operate the beach and then sets a fee, why do fees vary so much? Is this price variation something that deserves more attention from the public advocate?

    A quick glance reveals that four ocean beach towns (Atlantic City, Upper Township, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest) don’t charge anything. The cheapest fees ($4) can be found in Cape May, Sea Isle City and Toms River. Most are in the $5 to $6 category.

    The concept of paying to get onto what most regard as a public natural resource is one of those Jersey ideas — most states don’t charge anything — that has been contentious for decades. After 35 years of courtroom challenges, something of a legal consensus has emerged.

    The public has a right to use the beaches, but towns can charge whatever it costs to maintain them. None of the badge money is to go for general municipal expenses.

    So why can some towns charge nothing and others exact $6 from everyone who spreads a blanket on the sand?

    True, keeping a beach safe and clean requires money, and towns don’t have many options. Still, beach badge fees aren’t the only source. Towns may add up to 3 percent to the state hotel-motel occupancy tax of 5 percent and keep the difference. Figures for the 2006 fiscal year show 100 towns raked in a total of $36 million.

    Whether this new revenue should reduce beach fees remains a question. At least the public advocate is compiling information that could be useful in eventually answering that question.
    I'll state off right away that I support beach fees. Why? Well there are several reasons, but the main one is that I feel that the people who go to the beach should help pay for the upkeep of them.

    The above editorial also leaves out key facts.

    1) Most beaches in other states are NOT lifeguard protected - swim at your own risk
    2) NJ has a very limited beach season compared to other states
    3) Many beaches which require beach fees have free beach days (Seaside is Wednesday & Thursday)


    I would also like to point out that the beaches that do NOT charge a beach fee, the beach is not their primary tourist attraction. Wildwood has Morey's Pier and unless you want to hike to the water from the boardwalk, your not going to really go on the beach. Atlantic City, now we all know what the key attraction is there, and again it's not the beach.

    Some people can argue that Seaside Heights and Pt Pleasant have boardwalks and amusements also, so why do they charge - well during the day, the boardwalk isn't the main attraction, it's the beach. That is why Casino Pier, and Funtown Pier have "unlimited rides for one price" during the day and NOT during the night time.

    The majority of people paying to go on our beaches are out of state visitors. I have no problem with them helping out in the upkeep for a great and safe tourist attraction we provide. Most New Jerseyans do go to beach during the off season (especially September when it is still warm), when there is no beach fee.

    Instead of New Jerseyans arguing about beach fees and toll fees - which out of staters have to pay also, we should be up in arms over our property taxes and the tax and spend mentality of Trenton. Whether people like it or not, someone is going to have to pay for the upkeep of the beaches and the lifeguards, trash cans and trash pickup, etc, and I'd rather have it be the people who use the beach, instead of it all falling on the shoulders of New Jersey.

    AboutNewJersey.com also provides listings of our beaches, including beach fees and amenities. So check out the Jersey Shore Beach Guide

    BTW - unlike other states, ALL of New Jersey's beaches are assessable by the general public. In other states, if you own beach front property, you can prevent the public from going on the beach.

    What are your thoughts on beach fees?
    New Jersey is the only state honored by two resorts at Walt Disney World. The Beach Club Resort, modeled after Historic Cape May and The Boardwalk Resort, after Atlantic City. If the Jersey Shore is good enough for Walt Disney to recreate, isn't the REAL Jersey Shore even better for you and your family?

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    Recent Resident 131 Dukes St.'s Avatar
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    Swim for free and at your own risk after the lifeguards leave is my motto!

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    New Jersey Ambassador Admin & Founder JerseyDevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 131 Dukes St.
    Swim for free and at your own risk after the lifeguards leave is my motto!
    It's always funny being at the beach when 5:00 hits. Th lifeguards call everyone out of the water, people reluctantly get out, then eye the lifeguards as they pack their stuff up and leave the beach. After a few minutes to make sure the coast is clear - one person ventures back into the water, then another and before you know it - everyone is back in the water.

    You know everyone is thinking - "Just leave already - you know we're going back in as soon as you are on that boardwalk".
    New Jersey is the only state honored by two resorts at Walt Disney World. The Beach Club Resort, modeled after Historic Cape May and The Boardwalk Resort, after Atlantic City. If the Jersey Shore is good enough for Walt Disney to recreate, isn't the REAL Jersey Shore even better for you and your family?

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    Y'know - they don't clean the beaches after Sept - just go in the off season and you will see all kinds of garbage washed up - they even pull the trash cans from the beach. And why are the fees climbing? Because you are paying for salaries and pensions and benefits to workers who only provide a service for 4 mos - my solution? Cap the per pupil fees in the schools - some of these shore communities have a $15000 up to $33,000 per pupil (that last was Sea Isle which was reported in a local paper - and that's just for their primary and middle school!) - and use the "leftover" to pay for beach cleaning. It shouldn't be more expensive to educate an Ocean City or Sea Isle kid than a Cumberland Co kid - waste, waste, waste - fees and tolls - getting fed up with it!

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    Well the problem with the cost for education - is that NJ has 566 different municipalities who have all duplicate services. For an excellent book on this subject you should read Municipal Madness. This is just as true on the shore. There was a local referendum I believe this past year for there to be some consolidation of the school systems (at least in the Seaside Heights/Park area. Unless towns are willing to consolidate and the home rule mentality of New Jersey is watered down - we are always going to have high school costs and high property taxes - no matter what the state does short term. When you have a town that is 1.5 square miles and it has it's own school administration, it's own police force, with police chief and all the overhead that comes managing a police force - it's always going to be expensive. The high cost of education is at the administration level, if you consolidate and bring down those costs, then property taxes would follow. Until New Jerseyans take a stand on this and ask whether we really need two Princetons for instance - one only 1.5 square miles - we might as well sit back and just accept the high property taxes.

    (NJ Barb- this is just general comment and not directed at you) In regards to pulling up the garbage cans and not cleaning up the beaches after September, that's why it's free after then. Beach fees have to go to one purpose and that is beach related. It can not be used for general town expenses or anything. As I stated, I have no problem with beach fees - just as long as they are kept reasonable - which I think most are. It's supply and demand. We have limited beaches - yet 25% of the US population lives within 3 hours of the Jersey Shore- that's 70 million people. Our beaches would be so much more crowded and probably dirty without beach fees. I still say that out of staters should be supporting our "drive through highways" such as the turnpike and helping to keep our beaches clean.

    People are going to have most likely start paying $8 a day to drive into Manhattan, I call that a tax on New Jerseyans from an outside state - we should be able to tax New Yorkers for using our amenities. So much of our money is exported to NY and Philadelphia, but New Jerseyans don't complain about that, they complain about the limited money that we bring in through tolls and beach fees. I'm more up in arms that our politicians support a second rail tunnel into Manhattan that will cost us BILLIONS and which will further export our jobs to NY, while our cities flounder to find big time rateables.

    I think New Jerseyans should really look at the whole picture - is it really feasible to eliminate fees that are mostly paid for by out of staters or is it more feasible to stop exporting our jobs and our hard earned tax money to support the economies of New York and Philadelphia? Everybody that commutes from New Jersey, is taking money outside the state and putting it into the economies of NY or Pennsylvania. Just remember, those nice huge sky scrapers going up in Philadelphia and New York will be housing mostly New Jersey workers. Instead - those sky scrapers should be going up in Newark, Camden, Trenton, etc where they contribute to our tax base and help not only revitalize our cities, by giving jobs, but also contribute huge amounts to the states overall economy through taxes.

    Another thing New Jerseyans should first get up in arms about before beach fees and tolls - when a person rents a car from Newark Liberty International Airport - do you notice what state plate they carry??? The car is registered in New YORK and carries New YORK plates and thus NY gets the tax money generated from the rentals. Again - think of all those rental cars - and New Jersey is giving away the income to New York. Just more of our money being exported across the river and I don't hear any New Jerseyans caring or demanding a change.
    New Jersey is the only state honored by two resorts at Walt Disney World. The Beach Club Resort, modeled after Historic Cape May and The Boardwalk Resort, after Atlantic City. If the Jersey Shore is good enough for Walt Disney to recreate, isn't the REAL Jersey Shore even better for you and your family?

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    Smile inflation on beach time?

    Given the current inflation rate and the high cost of fuel, the last free entertainment is soon going to be charged as well, come on. Allright, I can agree with your view that such charges would go towards maintaining a cleaner beach and a safer one at that. But I do think that the timing is all wrong and the public is not going to be all that receptive to this idea especially with the high cost of fuel!

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    Quote Originally Posted by simplosys View Post
    Given the current inflation rate and the high cost of fuel, the last free entertainment is soon going to be charged as well, come on. Allright, I can agree with your view that such charges would go towards maintaining a cleaner beach and a safer one at that. But I do think that the timing is all wrong and the public is not going to be all that receptive to this idea especially with the high cost of fuel!
    I don't get your point here. The beaches have for decades charged beach fees nothing is new here as you indicate in your post.
    New Jersey is the only state honored by two resorts at Walt Disney World. The Beach Club Resort, modeled after Historic Cape May and The Boardwalk Resort, after Atlantic City. If the Jersey Shore is good enough for Walt Disney to recreate, isn't the REAL Jersey Shore even better for you and your family?

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    Default hi

    It is not the fees that are charged now that I have any issue with but bringing about any additional charges, any raises is not what I am in favor of. Frankly, i wish that beaches do not charge anything at all, that way it will be great, free to use for anyone and have some beach fun.
    The lifegaurds are supposed to be public officials right? so then snce we pay taxes to support such public officials why should we pay any additional charges to use the beach?

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    Quote Originally Posted by simplosys View Post
    It is not the fees that are charged now that I have any issue with but bringing about any additional charges, any raises is not what I am in favor of. Frankly, i wish that beaches do not charge anything at all, that way it will be great, free to use for anyone and have some beach fun.
    The lifegaurds are supposed to be public officials right? so then snce we pay taxes to support such public officials why should we pay any additional charges to use the beach?
    Lifeguards are not public officials and the fees can ONLY go toward beach expenses - they can NOT go toward the boardwalk or to street maintenance or anything else. There are many expenses that the beaches entail and your atxes do not pay for them, or pay a very limited portion of them. If you are a New Jerseyan you have the option to go to the many free beaches or the enjoy the beaches on the free days. As I pointed out - most beaches do have free beach days - so i see no reason why the visitor should not help for the upkeep of our beaches that they also enjoy. It's also an issue of supply and demand - we have 25% of the US population living within 3 hours of our beaches, and we have only a limited number of beaches. In addition to the upkeep, I also feel that the beach fees keep our beaches from getting completely over crowded. I fully support beach fees - at a reasonable level and when they are restricted to the upkeep of the beach.

    You say you feel that our taxes pay for the beaches and their upkeep and therefore there shouldn't be beach fees. If that is the case - can you imagine if the beach fees were eliminated and the out of state visitor wasn't deferring the majority of the cost by having to pay the beach fees? Can you imagine how much your taxes would have to go up to make up for this lost revenue? As I have said - I would rather see the visitor paying their fair share for the use of our beaches.
    New Jersey is the only state honored by two resorts at Walt Disney World. The Beach Club Resort, modeled after Historic Cape May and The Boardwalk Resort, after Atlantic City. If the Jersey Shore is good enough for Walt Disney to recreate, isn't the REAL Jersey Shore even better for you and your family?

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  10. #10
    Moderator MITHRANDIR's Avatar
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    In general, I do not like the idea of beach fees.

    That said, I do not think that beach fees @ current levels are unreasonable. They fees do provide a service (clean beaches, lifeguards, facilities and beach maintenance). (children under 12 are usually free)

    If you speak about taxes paying for the beach, I would guess that more people from outside the beach communities make a much larger percentage of visitors/users of the beach than local residents. It would be reasonable if they would pay a small fee for upkeep.

    If someone was willing to do some planning they could buy seasonal beach badges before the summer season. If the person went to the beach 5-6 times (minimum) then they would be swimming at no cost for additional trips to the beach.

    Example: Seaside Park $8 daily badge -- Seasonal badge $40 (pre-season price)
    A state park pass is about $50 -- good for a year at all state parks (including Isalnd Beach State Park)
    There are some free beaches in NJ, although you will need to do some research to find them.

    You could also swim after the badge checkers leave. (usually after 5-5:30pm)
    You will still have about 2-3 hours available for swimming and you avoid the damaging rays of the midday sun)

    If you think of the beach as a form of entertainment, it is a relatively low cost form of fun for the whole family. If you went to an amusement park, sporting event, or other place, I would think that the beach (even @ $8/badge) is a good price.
    (at most if not all beaches--children under 12 are usually free)
    Sincerely,
    Anthony


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    New Jersey Ambassador Admin & Founder JerseyDevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MITHRANDIR View Post
    There are some free beaches in NJ, although you will need to do some research to find them.
    AboutNewJersey.com has an interactive New Jersey Beach Guide that shows all the key beaches in New Jersey. You can search for beaches by a particular amenity as well as restrict your selection to just the free beaches.
    New Jersey is the only state honored by two resorts at Walt Disney World. The Beach Club Resort, modeled after Historic Cape May and The Boardwalk Resort, after Atlantic City. If the Jersey Shore is good enough for Walt Disney to recreate, isn't the REAL Jersey Shore even better for you and your family?

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