Mayor says beach tag ban not a reality yet

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CAPE MAY – Despite concerns raised by county officials and legislators, Mayor Ed Mahaney said he remains confident that proposed legislation banning the sale of beach tags for towns accepting federal beach replenishment funds will not pass in Trenton and won’t threaten city services and finances.

Introduced to the state senate last December, the bill is not yet scheduled for a hearing before the Environment and Energy Committee. Co-sponsored by state senate president Stephen Sweeney, the bill would apply to all beach communities that accept grants or aid from the state or federal governments after Nov. 2 for the purpose of replenishing storm-damaged beaches.

“People are worried about this,” said Mahaney, “but we believe we’ve made an articulate argument against such legislation. We’ve provided a more comprehensive understanding of how beach tag fees are utilized in shore towns.”

Mahaney is serving on an advisory committee on the beach tag issue. In his January “State of the City Address” he commented on the bill.

“The bottom line is this, there are no free beaches, just as there are no free lunches,” he said. “Somebody has to pay for it. There are myriad direct and indirect costs and we must pay them as taxpayers.

“The position we have taken with our sister communities along the coast from Cape May Point along to North Jersey is that it is better to have the costs of beach use paid by the users than it is to have that total costs come back on the local taxpayers,” he said.

Mahaney said that only in the last 10 years has the city balanced the cost of the beaches with the revenue (from beach tag fees). Currently, beach revenues are at $2.1 million and the city spends $1.9 million, he said, noting the figures do not account for the city’s share of replenishment projects.

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