by Nicholas Huba, Staff Writer, Press of Atlantic City
LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP — Long Beach Island municipalities have spent more than $560,000 in taxpayer funds on a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm in an effort to help them secure federal funding for beach replenishment.
Since hiring Winning Strategies in 2004, the island has received more than $150 million from the federal government for the Surf City, Harvey Cedars and Brant Beach portions of the islandwide project. The project calls for the construction of a 125-foot-wide berm and 22-foot-high dunes along the barrier island.
“This is the best money that we have spent,” Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini said of the agreement with the lobbying firm. “They are familiar with the way Washington works. Without them, I don’t think that we would have been able to get any of the money for any of the projects.”
Barnegat Light is the only municipality on LBI not to participate in the beach-replenishment project or use the firm. Borough officials said their beaches are sound enough to protect them from storms.
Winning Strategies works on behalf of the municipalities to secure construction funding for beach replenishment, officials said. The group serves as regular liaison in Washington to the area’s members of Congress and provides direct outreach to the relevant committees, federal agencies and departments, officials said.