As if the weather wasn’t a damper enough to the Jersey Shore kickoff that Superstorm Sandy ravished businesses, their employees and shore area municipalities desperately need, the shore’s biggest newspaper, and its most popular columnist/blogger are working against us too.
The Asbury Park Press Editorial Board (formerly known here as the Neptune Nudniks, a title we retired the day before Sandy hit, but are tempted to bring back after today’s doozy), opines today that Governor Christie should issue an Executive Order doing away with beach badge sales.
What is really insulting, is that the APP blatantly show how ignorant they are about the New Jersey economy, our tax structure and the cost allocation of our various governments.
There is another logical reason for making the beaches free: revitalizing the Shore economy. What better extra inducement to get people to come to the Jersey Shore? Free beaches could mean millions of dollars in additional revenues for towns. More money spent in restaurants and bars, on summer rentals and motel stays, on souvenirs, on gasoline. For some families, beach fees are prohibitive. For a family of four, they can run $40 or more. That kind of expense can make the difference between going to the beach or staying home. Or between going once or twice a summer instead of several times during the season.
Doing away with beach badges would be a logical thing to do if it would bring revenues to shore towns. Duh! Why didn’t the mayors think of that!?
Obviously, the APP doesn’t know that shore towns don’t share in the sales tax revenue that beach goers spend at bars, restaurants and gift shops. That money goes to the State.
Beach tag sales fund lifeguards, auxiliary police shore towns must hire to keep the peace in the summer, beach clean up, etc. Basically, the cost of hosting a beach.
Columnist/blogger Bob Ingle ignorantly shoots from the hip and says beach badges are a partisan issue.
Sea Bright, Long Branch, Asbury Park, Belmar, Spring Lake, Manasquan all have Democratic mayors. Safe, clean beaches is not a partisan issue.
To boost his uninformed argument, Ingle links to a Washington Post article about all the business the Jersey Shore is losing to Delaware, because of Sandy. Beach badges are not talked about in the WaPo article. If you only read Ingle’s post, you would think former Jersey Shore vacationers are fleeing to Delaware because of beach badges. They’re not. They are going to Delaware because they think the Jersey Shore is not ready to welcome them. A perception we are spending $25 million to correct.
The APP Editorial Board and Ingle would have beach safety, policing and clean up funded by property taxes. That is the only other way that municipalities can generate revenue. Is it fair to the 6,000 residents of Belmar to pay millions more in property taxes for safe, free beaches, while the State gets all of the sales tax revenue?
Given the popularity of the Jersey Shore as a vacation destination and given how long beach badges have been funding beach safety and cleanliness (at least 45 years by my recollection) there is little evidence that beach badge sales don’t work or that they keep people away.
I’m all for funding beaches another way, but let’s figure that out before we cut safe beach funding for this year, as the APP calls for. Before Ingle and the APP Editorial Board go off half cocked, the should do some research or read MoreMonmouthMusings’ research.
In the meantime, the Jersey Shore is Stronger than Gannett.