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Beach tag inspector Kathy McFarland, right, made sure that Sea Isle tourists Cindy and Chuck Harper, of Tse Bonito, New Mexico, had their badges in August 2018.

By Donald Wittkowski

Those little pieces of plastic that are required when people step onto the beach are generating big money for Sea Isle City.

Even before the vacation season traditionally gets underway on Memorial Day weekend, Sea Isle already has reaped nearly $800,000 in revenue from beach tag sales.

Wednesday was the deadline for people to buy seasonal beach tags at the discounted preseason price of $20, a $5 savings over the normal rate.

Although the figures are not yet official, a total of 39,587 seasonal tags were bought before Wednesday’s deadline for total revenue of $791,740, Sea Isle’s Chief Financial Officer Paula Doll said.

Doll said the figures are comparable to the preseason beach tag sales in 2018. She declined to speculate whether this year’s preseason sales are an indication of a robust summer season ahead, but noted of the beachgoers, “I guess it means they’re planning to come. That’s a good thing.”

Beach tags are required in Sea Isle from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The cost is $5 for daily tags, $10 for weekly badges and $25 for seasonal tags now that the discounted preseason price is no longer offered.

So far this year, beach tag sales in Sea Isle are keeping pace with 2018 revenue.

Sea Isle recovered from some rainy weather during the early part of summer last year to collect just over $1.4 million in total beach tag revenue for 2018. Doll noted that the weather is a huge factor in influencing tag sales every year.

“I do believe that the weather is a better indicator,” she said in an interview Thursday.

Year after year, beach tag sales are a key barometer of the strength of the summer tourism season. In Sea Isle’s case, the all-time record was set in 2015 with $1,471,321 in beach tag revenue.

Revenue generated by beach tags is an important source of funding for the city. It covers the cost of keeping the beaches clean, collecting the trash, employing lifeguards and hiring summer police officers. It also helps to pay for Sea Isle’s share of beach replenishment projects in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

With beach tag revenue absorbing the cost, local taxpayers are saved from having to pay for all of those expenses.

Patricia Allen, in red shirt, sells beach tags at the Sea Isle City Welcome Center in 2018.

Beach tags are on sale seven days a week at the Sea Isle City Welcome Center, 300 John F. Kennedy Boulevard. They may also be purchased Monday through Friday at the Tax Collector’s Office, located on the second floor of City Hall, 233 JFK Boulevard.

Sea Isle also has a beach tag vending machine located in the lobby of City Hall. The machine accepts cash only.

Another option for buying beach tags is the Viply mobile app. The Viply web link at www.viplypass.com/sea-isle-city/ explains how to use the app.