Shore towns draw line in sand over ‘anti-beach tag’ legislation

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SEA ISLE CITY – Officials from Cape May County towns will meet in Sea Isle City Monday to voice their opposition to proposed legislation that would end beach tag fees for communities that accept state or federal funding for beach replenishment.

Sea Isle Mayor Leonard Desiderio said his city will host the press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 10 at the Sea Isle City Public School. City Hall and public safety operations have been moved to the school since Hurricane Sandy.

Desiderio said the conference will “show a united front of shore towns that are in opposition of the recently-proposed legislation to eliminate beach tag fees.”

Mayors and other community leaders from Ocean City, Avalon, Stone Harbor and Cape May City will be in attendance.

Two state senators recently introduced bipartisan legislation to end beach tag fees in any Garden State municipality that accepts state or federal beach replenishment funds. 

“Where taxpayers are paying for beach restoration, they shouldn’t be taxed a second time just to walk on the sand,” said state Senate president Stephen Sweeney (D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland). “As New Jerseyans, we are all in the recovery and rebuilding process together. That means we should all be able to enjoy the reopening of our state’s greatest natural resource together, too.”

State Sen. Michael Doherty, (R-Hunterdon, Warren) and Sweeney introduced the legislation calling for free beach access and public restrooms. The bill, S-2368, would apply to towns that accept grants or aid from the state or federal governments after Nov. 2 for the purpose of replenishing storm-damaged beaches.

“It is likely that state and federal taxpayers will provide hundreds of millions of dollars to repair and replenish New Jersey beaches that were washed away during Hurricane Sandy,” said Doherty. “Considering the massive public resources that will be directed at rebuilding many New Jersey beaches, it only seems fair to ensure that everyone have the opportunity to enjoy free access to the beaches they will support and help rebuild with their tax dollars.”

Beach communities raise millions of dollars each year through beach tag fees.

For instance, Cape May raises more than $2 million a year from beach tags. City council there is considering increasing the fees at its Dec. 18 meeting.  

“From my perspective, there needs to be an in depth review before this kind of legislation goes anywhere,” said Cape May Mayor Ed Mahaney. “There needs to be discussion with and input from the shore communities. The proposed legislation doesn’t take into consideration the costs that local towns bear in maintaining clean, safe beaches for visitors.”


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