By Mike DeNardo
WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — The City of Wildwood, known for its large, free beaches, is considering asking voters whether beach fees should be instituted.
The city commission this afternoon is expected to authorize a special election.
The Wildwood web site touts the resort as the city of free beaches and doo-wop, but Wildwood mayor Ernie Troiano says maybe it’s time to charge for using the beaches.
The city has a $1½-million budget hole to fill, and Troiano says taxpayers should decide whether they should continue to foot the bill for beach maintenance.
It costs Wildwood about $1 million to maintain the beach. Taxpayers cover $760,000 and the rest is covered by about $240,000 from the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority from tax revenues generated by visitors.
Authority director John Siciliano says the town would no longer receive the funds if it charges to use the beach.
Mayor Troiano says he knows beach fees are controversial.
“You have people who will sit there and chop your head off because their taxes are too high,” he says, “and then you try to create a revenue source and then they chop your head off for that.”
Business owners are concerned the fees might drive visitors away. A special election on beach fees would be held in March.
Wildwood voters turned down beach fees in 1976 and 1981.