BELMAR - Jersey Shore residents are fighting a proposal to raise the price of natural gas.

Several mayors and small business owners gathered in Belmar Wednesday to oppose a request by New Jersey Natural Gas for a 24-percent rate increase.

The proposal for the increase comes amid a substantial pay increase for the company’s executives.

Restaurant owner Michael Federici says that the large bonuses should not come on the backs of small businesses.

“It's not something I can really pass along to any customers because you just cannot raise your prices, so it's basically gone,” he says.

New Jersey Natural Gas says that the rate increase would be used to pay for repairs to the company’s aging infrastructure.

If a judge approves the proposal, the average customer would see their monthly bill increase about $21.