After seeing revenue dip slightly last season as the state’s minimum wage law placed extra pressure on the summer labor market, Lavallette officials are deciding on their strategy to increase revenue for the 2020 season.
At a borough council meeting Monday night, officials said daily and weekly beach badge prices would rise (seasonal prices were raised late last year) and the deployment of badge checkers will expand to every block to ensure beachgoers pay the required fees.
“We’re looking at sitters on each street this year,” said Councilman Michael Stogdill. “It will be a little deterrent to people trying to sneak their way on.”
The strategy has been tried before but resulted in labor costs swallowing up the increased numbers of badges sold due to tougher enforcement, but officials said this year supervisors in the field will be able to position manpower on a day-to-day basis rather than follow a prescribed method.
As for prices, daily badges will increase from $10 to $12 and weekly badges will be hiked from $30 to $35. Seasonal badges were already raised to $60 in-season and $50 if purchased pre-season.
Under the system being considered for 2020, beach supervisors and the beach captain will be able to determine manpower requirements per day, including adding or cutting hours depending on the size of the crowd or the day’s weather.
“Basically, we’re getting control by having someone sitting at the end of the street by paying a higher wage, and we can break even,” said Beach Captain Jack Caucino.
Beaches will be guarded June 20 through Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On weekends and July 4, guards will be on duty until 6 p.m., and there may be opportunities to extend the hours if necessary at other times.
Badge checkers make a wage of $11, while lifeguard salaries run from $12.50 an hour to $21 per hour depending on experience and rank. Last year, officials said, private businesses upped salaries after the state raised its minimum wage. Seasonal jobs were exempt for several years, but Island Beach State Park as well as year-round stores such as Acme drew more interest in the labor market, leading Lavallette to revise its salary schedule. That, in turn, led to the increase in beach badge prices.
“That will offset the cost of the guards and the increased number of checkers,” said Mayor Walter LaCicero.