Long Branch Council Briefs City looks at beach badges app; high Best Practices score

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — People who want to purchase daily beach badges next summer will likely have the opportunity to do so with their smart phones.

At the Nov. 15 Long Branch Council meeting, a resolution was passed to prepare a request for proposals for electronic beach badges.

“We’ve researched the possibility of having an app,” said City Administrator George Jackson. He said that one company had shown a demonstration, and that it could be made at no cost to the city.

Not only would it be a convenience to beachgoers, but it would also cut down on handling cash, Jackson said.

“Cash is a dangerous thing to have lying around.” He said it makes the beach entrances a tempting target for robbery, putting employees at risk.

There would not be much equipment involved, just a piece of plastic with a QR Code, placed by the ticket booths, Jackson said.


Best Practices at 97%

Long Branch had another very good year on the state’s annual Best Practices questionaire, earning a 97 percent.

Each year, the NJ Department of Community Affairs issues a form for municipalities to fill out to see if they are following what the state considers the best financial practices.

Long Branch CFO Michael Martin said that this year the city earned a 97 out of 100, which means that it will receive its full state aid.

This doesn’t mean that the city is following all the advice at the moment. “There’s a lot of ‘prospective’ [answers to] questions this year,” Martin said. That means Long Branch is looking at items recommended by the state, but has not implemented them. In these cases, ‘prospective’ does not penalize any points.


Gas prices up

Due to the way that municipal budgets work, at this time of year the city has to begin transferring funds from one department to another to cover certain expenses.

Councilwoman Anita Voogt was surprised a how much was being moved to pay for gasoline.

“It just kind of catches your attention when you’re making an $80,000 transfer,” she said.

Martin said that work on the 2018 budget began more than a year ago, and it is “difficult to speculate… 15 months ahead of time” on the cost of gas.

While the city purchases its own gasoline, prices have risen recently. According to AAA, a year ago the average price for diesel in Monmouth and Ocean County was $2.83 a gallon. As of Nov. 15, it had risen to more than $3.30. It was more expensive a month ago at $3.41.