It will cost more to go onto an Ocean City beach in 2023 after the City Council approved the first increase for some of the tags in 20 years.

Higher costs to maintain the beach are the reason for the increase, according to Council President Pete Madden. The price of seasonal tags has been the same since 2011 while the price of the daily and weekly beach tags has not increased since 2002.

"It is to cover the increased cost of running the beach. Every year everything goes up, from the lifeguards to the Mobi mats that we put down for people to walk on. Everything goes up, unfortunately. We have to pass that on to cover the costs," Madden told New Jersey 101.5.

The beach tag increase will bring in an additional $1 million in revenue from $4 million in 2022 to a projected $5 million in 2023.

Following the unanimous on Thursday's vote tags will cost the following:

  • Seasonal tags would go from $20 to $30 if purchased before May 31 and from $25 to $35 if purchased starting June 1
  • Daily tags would cost $10, up from $5
  • Weekly tags would increase from $10 to $20

Acceptance and concerns about the increase

Many people commented on the increase but had concerns about its consequences.

"I understand that there is a need for an increase. My concern, however, pertains to the amount of the proposed increase. Doubling the daily fees and increasing weekly and seasonal tag prices is excessive and could make beach trips and vacations cost prohibitive for the working class," a resident told the council during public comment.

Susan Pinkerton expressed concern about the number of beach tag checkers and thought there were fewer this year.

"They don't really check everybody. Also just getting on the beach a lot of times you can walk right by them even though we have tags they don't even ask for it so I don't know if there's some way to help improve that to make sure that we are getting the revenue that you're trying to get to maintain the beaches," Pinkerton said.

Council Vice President Karen Bergman said that she was at an event with representatives from Monmouth and Ocean county beaches and they were flabbergasted at how low tags still cost even after the increase.

"They were like 'are you kidding? We pay $100 a season. You can't even buy a daily.' I left there feeling 'wow it's really inexpensive compared to other beaches,'" Bergman said.

Councilman Bob Barr said the increased cost also helps Ocean City maintains its "brand" as a clean beach.

"It's clean. It's safe. It's nice. You can go there anytime and feel like your kids are going to be OK if they're there during the day. You don't have to worry about stepping on God knows what," Barr said.

He said if there's a negative impact on tourism the matter can be revisited.

A representative of The Ocean City Chamber of Commerce was not available to comment.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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