City OKs Strict Penalties For Late Beach Stand Payments

OCEAN CITY – At a work session Tuesday, the Mayor and Council approved new penalties for beach franchise operators failing to make timely payments, along with changes to contract renewal deadlines.

City Clerk Carol Jacobs presented the Mayor and Council with recommendations from the Beach Mediation Board regarding the two issues.

Jacobs explained that earlier this year, the Mayor and Council had requested the board to take a closer look at fines for beach operators making late payments. After reviewing the situation, the Beach Mediation Board made the recommendation to add a penalty to unpaid franchise fees when an operator fails to make timely payments.

The board recommended to the Mayor and Council that a penalty of 5 percent of the unpaid balance be due if the payment is made within seven days of the due date. A 10 percent penalty of the unpaid balance will be required if the payment is made within eight to 14 days of the due date. The board suggested that payments pending beyond 14 days of the due date would require a hearing before the Mayor and Council.

The aim is to provide a financial penalty for beach stand operators that fail to meet payment deadlines.

“We thought we’d go through this summer and see how this goes,” said Councilman and Beach Mediation Board member Jim Hall, explaining the city would examine the penalty system at the end of next summer.

Mayor Rick Meehan questioned whether a fine for continuous late fees within a cycle should be made to punish habitual offenders. Hall explained that the offenders would already be punished by having to pay the fine each time.

The council voted unanimously, with Councilman Lloyd Martin absent, to accept the recommendation from the Beach Mediation Board on penalties on unpaid balances.

Jacobs presented the Mayor and Council with a second recommendation, calling for a contract extension for 10 beach stand operators. Jacobs explained that although she is not required to remind the operators of the renewal deadline she generally does. Jacobs said that she forgot to send a reminder letter this time, resulting in the request from certain operators to extend the deadline.

Councilwoman Nancy Howard pointed out that Jacobs was not required to remind the operators of the contract renewal date, and that as business people, the operators should not need reminding.

Jacobs recommended that the council allow 10 south-end parcels, located on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 10th, 11th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and 22nd streets, be allowed a contract extension through 2007. She noted that the extension would be a one time only offer. Hall added that those operators were reliable and had been dealing with the town for years. The deadline to request extension will be extended to no later than Nov. 6.

The council voted unanimously, Martin absent, to accept the recommendation of the Beach Mediation Board.

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