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Monday, May 20, 2024

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Stone Harbor Property Owners Urge Collaboration with Avalon on Beach Tag Pricing

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By Vince Conti

STONE HARBOR – Beachgoers on 7 Mile Island enjoy reciprocity in the use of beach tags whether bought in Stone Harbor or Avalon. The same tag is good in both locations. This year, that reciprocity came at a cost, according to Richard Fuchs who is the President of the Stone Harbor Property Owners Association (SHPOA). 
Fuchs, speaking for the association, used the public comment period at Stone Harbor Council’s Nov. 14 meeting to urge the borough to initiate talks with neighboring Avalon concerning beach tag prices. This summer, Stone Harbor raised its beach tag price, with seasonal tags bought after Memorial Day moving to $40. The same in-season tags bought in Avalon were $33, producing a $7 per tag differential. 
Since many families buy multiple seasonal tags, the lower price in Avalon was sufficient to reduce the expected number of tags sold in Stone Harbor by about 2,000. That, Fuchs said, cost the Stone Harbor borough around $60,000 that otherwise could have gone to the support of the borough’s beach patrol and beach-related public works efforts. 
For Fuchs, the issue is a difference in the strategy used by the two towns. Stone Harbor, he said, has gone to a policy of setting beach tag prices that would produce the revenue needed to cover beach-related costs, including lifeguards and taggers. Avalon, he reminded the council, has a separate beach utility that theoretically is supposed to be self-supporting but is not.
Fuchs pointed to two recent years to show the level of the deficit Avalon is willing to allow in its beach utility, a deficit that must be covered by an allocation of tax dollars from the general budget. He said this was a strategy in the neighboring borough, one designed to keep beach tag prices lower even at the cost of an annual subsidy. 
For SHPOA, this practice is not treating Stone Harbor fairly. The borough is doing the right thing, he maintained, in setting prices so as to cover expenses. It is time, he says, for Stone Harbor “to engage” with Avalon to resolve the high differential in price, even if that means some form of limitation on reciprocity. 
While SHPOA did not offer options if the two towns cannot reach an agreement on tag pricing, Fuchs said the association would like to see talks aimed at bringing pricing closer before the 2024 season. 

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