With all the state and federal dollars being used to replenish Jersey Shore beaches, there’s a lot more focus on the fees charged for using the beaches.
The New Jersey Senate approved a resolution Thursday to create a beach fee-task force.
The nine-member task force will examine whether the fees many Shore towns charge for beach access are reasonable, according to Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic.
Because public funds are used for beach restoration projects, some are urging all beach fees be eliminated. But Whelan doesn’t believe that will happen.
“What they collect in beach fees covers part of the costs, but doesn’t cover all of the costs of the lifeguards and the cleanup crews and the other things that go along with operating the beach,” he said. “Over the decades, towns have come to rely on this. To take it away now is just going to shift that burden back to the property owners.”
The fees should not be so costly that a visit to the beach becomes prohibitively expensive, Whelan said.
“In South Jersey, most of the towns with beach fees, you can buy the tag right on the beach. You go on the beach and there’s somebody there that will sell you a tag.
“In some of the towns up north, that’s not the case,” he said. “You go to the beach and they say, ‘You got to buy a beach tag. Can I buy one? No you got to go to City Hall and City Hall is closed.’ I think those are some of the things we want to look at.”
Whelan does not expect the task force to recommend any dramatic changes in the current beach fee structure when it issues its report later this year.