Lavallette may increase beach badge fees; mayor blames minimum wage increase

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Lavallette officials are considering raising the fee for beach badges for next summer, and the mayor says it is due to the state-mandated increase in minimum wage.

Mayor Walter LaCicero blames the wage increase for a budget shortage of nearly $22,000 this year.

“Obviously, we’ve got to pay more for the staffing, lifeguards, beach cleanup, beach badge checkers, garbage collection - everything has gone up, so we are running a little bit under where we are projected to be,” the mayor says.

Seasonal pages are expected to increase between 20% and 25% before the summer of 2020. A $40 seasonal badge would cost $50, and a senior seasonal would increase from $15 to $20 if the plan is approved.

RELATED: New Jersey minimum wage goes up to $10 an hour 

“We are in competition with the small businesses, particularly across the bridge. Why sit here on the beach when you can travel a mere two miles to get paid much better across the bridge?” LaCicero says.

The higher fees drew a couple of negative remarks at Monday's council meeting. Lavallette residents like Jane Mosenthine say that if it means more money in workers' pockets, she's all for it.

"I think it's great. It doesn't matter to me at all. In fact, my granddaughter is a badge checker. I'm glad she's making more money. I think it's fabulous. I have no complaints about it,” she says.

LaCicero says if the ordinance does pass, which he expects it to, Lavallette will still have some of the least expensive beaches in all of Ocean County. A second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for next month. If passed, prices would rise before 2020 badges went on sale for the holiday shopping season.

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