As you know I generally support what would be considered "User Fees."

If you are the one using the product, service or location, the burden for funding should be placed at least partially on you.

That doesn't mean people should pay through the nose to spend a few hours enjoying the beach and the ocean.

Drone footage of a line for beach badges on the boardwalk in Belmar
Drone footage of a line for beach badges on the boardwalk in Belmar (Borough of Belmar)

It does mean that the cost of lifeguards, beach and boardwalk maintenance, additional policing, restrooms and trash collection.

The question isn't whether the money needs to be collected and spent, the question is who should bear the brunt of the cost.

Bradley Beach beach tag
Bradley Beach beach tag (Bud McCormick)

Without beach tags, the local homeowners and retailers are paying the taxes to offset the cost.

Meanwhile thousands will use the beach while locals bear the cost to keep the beach maintained.

Doesn't seem fair does it?

In places like Florida there is a year-round tourist season where travelers are paying taxes through their hotel rentals and there is no doubt that it helps offset the cost of the beaches.

In places like the Outer banks, I don't recall all of the beaches having any maintenance at all, let alone lifeguards.

Crowds Flock To Jersey Shore For Summer Weather On The Weekend
Getty Images

In Jersey, there's a life guard every few blocks, the beaches are raked and trash is collected daily.

That costs money! If there's a better idea than the tag to offset the local taxpayer burden, I'm all ears!

In the meantime, a good friend of mine had an idea to address the issue of people living at one beach and traveling to see friends at a nearby spot.

Which NJ beaches are free in 2022 (Cape May Point State Park NJDEP) 2
(Cape May Point State Park, NJDEP)

You shouldn't have to buy additional tags just to get to the beach to meet friends for a few minutes.

The idea is a universal tag that would be accepted across NJ shore towns.

The state would sell the tag online through an app and it would be a scanned QR code.

Which NJ beaches are free in 2022 (ISland Beach State Park NJDEP)
Which NJ beaches are free in 2022 (Island Beach State Park NJDEP)

Towns would opt in and collect a fee from the state for each tag sold.

The money collected through the tag would be used to offset local costs of maintaining the beaches.

It's a great way to market the Jersey Shore across the Delaware and the Hudson.

The increase in beach tourism would be a boon for local retailers and restaurants who rely on a very short season to make up their year.

Wind Energy NJ
This Feb. 4, 2021, file photo shows the beach coastline of Ocean City, N.J. A large offshore wind energy project planned off the coast of New Jersey would run cables from the wind farm to potentially three locations, including Ocean City. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

That in turn would contribute to tax revenue for the state and local communities.

It's a simple but effective idea.

The Department of State in NJ runs the Tourism and Travel division which would be responsible for the implementation.

Jersey shore
Kylie Moore photo

Common sense, practical ideas are what the state has been lacking for decades.

It's time to focus on responsible, effective government that will increase economic activity, make life a little easier and affordable and deliver services to the people footing the bills.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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