By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Add Sea Isle City’s beach tags to the list of things that are getting more expensive as inflation continues to push up prices for everything from gas to groceries.
City Council is expected to introduce an ordinance at its Sept. 26 meeting to raise the prices for Sea Isle’s seasonal, weekly and daily beach tags for the 2024 summer season.
Barring any delays, the ordinance’s introduction is a first step that would be followed by a public hearing and final Council vote on Oct. 24 before the price increase is formalized.
Under the proposed increase, seasonal tags that are good for the entire summer would rise from the current price of $25 to $30. Sea Isle offers a discount on seasonal beach tags if they are bought before May 15. The discounted price will increase from $20 to $25.
Weekly beach tags will increase from the current price of $10 to $15 and dailies will double from $5 to $10.
Revenue generated by beach tag sales is an important source of funding. It covers the cost of keeping the beaches clean, collecting the trash, employing lifeguards and hiring summer police officers. The revenue also helps to pay for Sea Isle’s share of beach replenishment projects, including one that is scheduled for this fall.
“We want to ensure that we have the financial resources that allow us to keep our beaches clean and beautiful for everyone,” Sea Isle spokeswoman Katherine Custer said of the proposed price hike.
Sea Isle’s beach tag revenue is usually in the $1.3 million to $1.4 million range each year. For the summer of 2023, it came in at $1.3 million, a slight drop from $1.319 million for the same period in 2022, according to Sea Isle’s chief financial officer Jennifer McIver.
Sea Isle’s all-time record for beach tag sales was set in 2015 with $1,471,321 in revenue.
Custer noted that the plan to raise beach tag fees for 2024 coincides with the city’s rising expenses to maintain the shoreline.
“During times of inflation, we’re seeing cost increases in all areas, and with that includes the cost to maintain the shoreline and beaches,” she said in an interview Friday.
As an example, Custer explained that the city is spending more to buy the popular beach mats that make it easier for senior citizens, people with disabilities and families with young children to navigate across the deep sand.
“Each year, we’re getting requests from the public for more mobi mats, which also cost more,” she said.
Custer said it has been “quite a while” since Sea Isle has raised beach tag fees, but she didn’t immediately know the last time that a price increase occurred.
Beach tags are required in Sea Isle from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Children under the age of 12 are allowed on the beach for free.
Sea Isle also has a special program for military veterans and active-duty servicemen and women. Complimentary weekly beach tags are given to eligible active-duty military personnel and their families. Veterans are eligible for one complimentary seasonal beach tag.
For more than 25 years, Sea Isle has also offered a perk to beachgoers by not charging them for beach tags on Wednesdays. Throughout the summer, Wednesdays are the one day of the week when Sea Isle’s beaches are free.
There is one exception to Wednesdays for free beach days. If the Fourth of July falls on a Wednesday, beachgoers still have to pay for a tag.
The free beach days on Wednesdays traditionally are popular with day-trippers, church groups, youth summer camps and other organizations looking to save money.