City Council gave final approval Thursday (April 24) to offer free beach tags to all military veterans.
A new ordinance eliminates the fees for anybody who has served in the U.S. military for at least 90 days.
Ocean City collected $3.9 million in beach tag revenue in 2013, and the city is projecting equal revenue for 2014 despite the change.
The measure passed in a 6-0 vote and was sponsored by Councilman Keith Hartzell, Councilman Mike Allegretto and Council President Tony Wilson. Councilman Pete Guinosso recused himself from the vote as the only veteran on the seven-member council.
The measure reads as follows:
“No fees shall be charged to or collected from persons who have served in any of the Armed Forces of the United States and who were discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable and who either have served at least 90 days in active duty or have been discharged or released from active duty by reason of a service-incurred injury or disability. … The Director of Financial Management shall also establish procedures pursuant to the rules and regulations promulgated by the Adjutant General of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs pertaining to veteran eligibility for this beach fee exemption.”
Finance Director Frank Donato is charged with coming up with a system to administer the program. He said Thursday that distribution of specially designed military beach tags likely would take place at a limited number of indoor locations where city employees would be able to verify veteran status (using state-issued guidelines).
A similar system was in place last summer after City Council passed a 2011 ordinance that offers free beach tags to active-duty members and their spouses and children.
The local measure is made possible by a bill Gov. Chris Christie signed in January permitting towns to provide the free or discounted beach tags to veterans.
Ocean City has charged for access to public beaches since the 1970s. Seasonal beach tags cost $20 (if purchased before June 1) and $25 during the season. All persons age 12 and older must purchase a beach tag to use the beach between June 7 and Sept. 1.
Beach tags can be purchased online (with a $5 shipping fee): Order Ocean City NJ Beach Tags.