Morey’s: Beach Blast, Beach Jam to move to Crest, North Wildwood if Wildwood event fees remain

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WILDWOOD--Morey Piers has announced that if Wildwood doesn’t rescind its beach event fees by Wednesday, April 16, three major events, including Cape Express Beach Blast will take place in Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood this year. 

“We do not wish to move these events as they have a very positive effect (sic) on the community of businesses with whom we share the boardwalk culture and tradition,” Will Morey wrote in a letter to Jack Byrne, chairman of the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority, on Saturday, April 12. “We simply cannot continue, however, to expose these events to the recklessness and stated indifference of the city of Wildwood government.”

According to Morey, Cape Express Beach Blast’s two soccer events will be moved to Wildwood Crest, and Beach Jam, a beach camping event for scouts, will be moved to North Wildwood. 

The letter comes after the Board of Commissioner’s meeting April 9, when the governing body did not act on a proposal from GWTIDA that asked the city to rescind their beach fee ordinance. In return, GWTIDA planned to reimburse Wildwood with the funds it would have seen from the new fees this year, and to work throughout 2014 on a plan for event support for the Wildwoods.

After a special meeting on Friday, Mayor Ernie Troiano said that the city did not act on the proposal because they were working on creating a list of events and the costs incurred by the city to put them on.

“When we resolve the problem, then we will rescind the resolution,” Troiano said at the time.

In regards to the Morey letter, Troiano said in a phone interview Sunday that he would be meeting with representatives from GWTIDA throughout the week in hopes to get this issue resolved as quickly as possible.

“We want our businesses to prosper, but we can not continue to use the taxpayers’ money to support these events,” he said.

But, to the Morey Organization, the city isn’t moving fast enough to come to a resolution. In Will Morey’s letter, he writes that he was “surprised and disappointed” that the city had not moved forward with the proposal.  He also said that the company believes the increased fees to be “unlawful” and that the law only allows Wildwood to charge event promoters a reasonable administration fee and the direct expenses associated with certain events.

“While we can appreciate the City of Wildwood’s search for revenue sources, forcing themselves as virtual ‘financial partners’ on event promoters by way of event fees is not an appropriate role for government,” Morey writes.

The mayor has argued that event promoters shouldn’t be making profits at the expense of Wildwood taxpayers, and said that was the reasoning for the increased fees. Wildwood has not yet introduced a budget in 2014, and the mayor said that the city lost about $130 million in ratables as a result of a recently completed revaluation.

The new beach event fees are based on the number participants an event draws. Under the city’s resolution, an event with fewer than 500 participants will pay $4 per participant for a beach event permit. An event with more than 500 participants but less than 1,500 participants will pay $3 per participant, and an event with more than 1,500 participants will pay $2 per participant.

That means that an event with 500 participants will pay $2,000 for a permit, an event with 1,000 participants will pay $3,000, and an event with 1,500 participants will also pay $3,000.

For events like Beach Blast, which draw about 8,000 participants, organizers would have had to pay out about $16,000, plus the costs of public works and police, to hold their event in Wildwood this year.

Troiano said that he would be sending a formal response to Morey’s letter on Monday.

Both Will Morey's letter and the GWTIDA event fee proposal are available to read below. 

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