Seaside Heights officials will ramp up their recruiting efforts early this year to staff the boardwalk during the summer amidst an ongoing labor shortage.
Meanwhile, the borough council on Wednesday voted in favor of raising the price of a pre-season discounted beach badge from $45 to $50. The discounted price is offered through May 15.
“The regular price of $60 stays the same, so this only affects the pre-season pricing,” said Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz.
Like most towns at the Jersey Shore, Seaside Heights officials struggled at times to fill all of the positions required to run the boardwalk. It was particularly difficult to find maintenance workers at some points in time, and incentives were offered to retain employees. This year, recruiting for these positions will begin earlier than usual, and a newly-hired sergeant will lead the Seaside Heights Police Department’s management of special officers on the boardwalk as well as a new police substation that will be opening.
“We met the week before last and we decided we’ll start the recruitment process sooner than later this year,” Vaz said. “Talking with [Beach Patrol Capt.] Jay Boyd, the lifeguards are going to be doing the same thing.”
In recent years, municipalities with beaches have steadily increased the prices of beach badges as the market has forced them to increase pay for summer workers. The state’s recent minimum wage hikes were phased in for public agencies, but competition from private employers who were paying higher hourly wages and handing out bonuses left towns short-handed. There is also competition from Island Beach State Park, which employs many local residents seasonally at the state’s new, higher pay scale.
“Everybody is looking to see if other towns in New Jersey will have to do anything different,” said Vaz. “Will they raise their starting pay over the winter time? Offer incentives? Things like that.”
Last summer, Seaside Heights offered bonuses to summer employees who remained on the staff until the end of the summer season, when college students traditionally take a few weeks off before heading back to school. The borough will finalize its strategy to recruit summer workers over the next several weeks.