Wildwood residents will vote on beach tags - NBC40.net

Wildwood residents will vote on beach tags

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Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr. and city commissioners listened to those for and against beach badges at a meeting Friday afternoon, before agreeing that residents will have the final say.

"This is not a dyed in the wool, cut in stone decision. This basically is today, we are going to put it out to the public and let the public put their input in," said Mayor Troiano.

The mayor says beach fees would offset budget shortfalls and take some of the burden off of taxpayers.

Residents who share Troiano's view, say the fees will keep taxpayers from paying millions in beach maintenance.

"You can't expect me to be happy with me paying 1.7 million for a beach for other people to use just cause its free. Its not free to us," said Wildwood resident Gerard Vessels.

But opponents, say the fees will be a devastating blow to the city's tourism industry.

"We're going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg and you're going to see a standard of life change for resident, along with vacationer along with businessman," said Wildwood business owner Joe Salerno.

The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority opposes the fee saying in a released statement that it would "not be advantageous and in the best interest to our overall tourism economy."

The authority added that it will pay Wildwood nearly $250,000 this season alone, from funds collected through a tourism assessment paid by hotel and motel visitors, that in turn will offset beach maintenance.

The city would have to forfeit those funds if a beach fee was imposed.

But Troiano says they are still looking for other ways to generate revenue.

"We are not leaving any stone unturned. We're looking at every sense of revenue to create monies to not to burden the taxpayer."

The commissioners voted to allow the city clerk to organize a special citywide vote this March.

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