‘Beach department’ on agenda

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WILDWOOD- At last week’s commissioners’ meeting, an agenda item “Establishing ‘Beach Department’ Budget” was carried over into executive session.

That decision came after the commission unanimously voted to rescind an ordinance creating a beach utility in the city, which had been petitioned by the Wildwood Watchdogs because it created two city jobs. Those jobs which were expected to go to Mayor Ernie Troiano’s son, Ryan Troiano, and Chris Fox, West Wildwood Mayor who had also worked on Troiano’s campaign.

Most commissioner meetings are open to the public, but under certain conditions, the commissioners may talk in private in what’s called executive sessions. Minutes have to be taken at these meetings, and by law any votes would need to be taken in a regular public meeting.

Commissioner Pete Byron, who was to take the lead on the beach utility if it had been created, said that the possible “beach department budget” was not discussed in executive session and that it was not a replacement for the proposed beach utility.

“We’re not trying to circumvent anything,” he said after the March 13 meeting. “It’s not a beach utility.”

On Monday, he said that the city had not moved forward with the beach department budget or set parameters as to how it would operate. Jeanette Powers, the city’s chief financial officer, said the beach department would fall under the city’s main municipal budget, rather than establishing a separate budget strictly for the beach, which the utility would have done.

“It does have its own budget but that is part of the city budget,” she said. Unlike if a utility were established, any revenue from the beach will fall under the city’s regular revenues in the general fund.

“It’s in the big pot,” she explained.

The beach utility was set to operate as its own entity to keep track of money from activities on the beach, and prove that revenue was being spent on beach maintenance. According to Tammori Petty, a spokeswoman with the Division of Community Affairs, beach utilities are not required by the state, but some municipalities do choose to have them.

“Some towns have them and some don’t,” Petty wrote in an email. “The division does not tell them that they should or should not have them. Some do it to make sure their beach fees reflect no more than the cost of the service, though for Wildwoods, this is not an issue so we are not sure why they would want to create a utility.”

Petty also said that the state did not have staffing requirements for the utility.

“The establishment of a utility in and of itself is just an accounting matter and wouldn’t necessitate an increase in staff,” she said.

As for the jobs for Ryan Troiano and Fox, Byron said that no positions have been promised or salaries established. He said that if the city decides to hire a beach manager and director, the city would go through its typical hiring process to fill them.

Christie Rotondo can be emailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story at www.wildwood.shorenewstoday.com. 

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