BRICK – There will be no reduced-price beach badges for residents since it would be breaking the law to offer them, said Mayor John G. Ducey during the most recent Township Council meeting.
“We tried to do residents versus non-residents, but there is something called the Public Trust Doctrine that doesn’t allow for that,” he said. “We tried, but it would be illegal for us to do so, so we can’t change that.”
The Public Trust Doctrine states that oceans, bays and rivers are held in trust by the state and are for common use by the public, who has the right to swim, sit, or walk along their shores.
The mayor said that many residents have requested no-fee beaches, but charging admission to beaches keeps taxes down because only people who use the beach pay for the beach.
Beach badge fees have to be used for beach purposes, and may not be used for any other purpose, such as paying for extra police or public works equipment, Ducey said.
“So it’s used for beach purposes and it keeps our taxes lower, because everybody out there who doesn’t use the beach would be paying for everybody else who uses the beach,” he said. “So that’s one thing in New Jersey that’s user-based, which I think is a better system.”
The mayor said he wishes New Jersey would more often tax its residents only for the services they use.
“I would love that system. They do that in some other states and counties around the country, but New Jersey doesn’t allow that,” Ducey said. “But one of the things they do have is for beaches.”
The governing body passed an ordinance that establishes new 2019 beach fees: next summer, the daily beach badge rate goes from $5 to $8, which are mostly purchased by non-residents who come down for the day, Ducey said.
Seasonal badges for everyone are $25 before June 15 and $30 after that date, which has not changed.
In the first reading of the ordinance on Oct. 9, a clause containing the provision for lower fees for residents was included, but in the final reading, it was omitted – which is not considered a major change, said Township Attorney Kevin Starkey.
Ducey said that the special thing about the new ordinance is it allows active and retired military veterans to receive free beach access by showing their military ID.
In other news, the mayor said there was good news for victims of the August 13 storm, when 8.5 inches of rain fell within two and a half hours, flooding 106 homes in the age-restricted community of Greenbriar and additional homes nearby.
The SBA (Small Business Association) would be providing low-interest loans to anyone who was affected by the August flood, Ducey said during the council meeting.