Ocean City, NJ may increase beach tag cost by a lot — are Wildwoods next?
As the City Council in Ocean City takes the first step at Thursday’s meeting toward increasing the cost of beach tags, the mayors of the Wildwoods also are considering ways to increase revenues including beach fees.
The Ocean City council will take its first vote on an ordinance that would increase the cost of seasonal beach tags by $10 for the 2023 summer season.
- Seasonal tags would go from $20 to $30 if purchased before May 31 and from $25 to $35 if purchased starting June 1
- Daily tags would cost $10, up from $5
- Weekly tags would increase from $10 to $20
Council President Pete Madden told the Press of Atlantic City that the cost of seasonal tags has been the same since 2011, and the price of the daily and weekly beach tags has not increased since 2002.
He cited increased beach maintenance costs as the reason for the increase request.
Beach tags finally coming to Wildwood?
It's those increased costs that have led the mayors of Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest to discuss their options to increase revenues and manage costs for the summer of 2023.
"Take lifeguards, for instance. In 2018 and 2019, we were paying them $8 and $9 an hour. It's now $17 an hour. Class Two police officers the same thing and the guys cleaning the beach. Just everything has just absolutely skyrocketed," North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello told New Jersey 101.5.
Tourism tax increase eyed
All three towns collect a 2% tourism tax but their beaches are free. Rosenello said that while the tourism tax is easier to collect, an increase would involve the state Legislature. The municipalities could implement beach fees on their own making it the most viable option.
"It may end up being the only path available to us if the idea of an increase in the tourism tax can't get accomplished. We would like to have something in place by next year but I don't know that that's going to happen," Rosenello said.
"It is a lot easier to collect the tourism tax than it is to collect beach fees, quite frankly. So we're looking at all of our options to try to cover more of our expenses with user fees and not property taxes," Rosenello said.
The Wildwoods considered a beach fee in 2021 but it never got beyond the discussion stage