OCEAN CITY – Discussions over a business license fee for the town’s flea market left the council divided this week, with several members agreeing that the flea market should be held accountable for the business license fee this year.
The flea market, held on Saturdays and Sundays, was held in the Worcester Street parking lot last summer, with proceeds from vendor fees dedicated to the Downtown Association.
In an effort to get the operation up and running, it was agreed to waive the business license fee for the first year.
The return of the flea market was highlighted as a means to get more foot traffic in the downtown area, but it was agreed last week to move the downtown-oriented flea market to the 65th Street Public Safety Building parking lot.
The problem with the Worcester Street lot was mainly time constraints, with vendors having only until 1 p.m. to make sales. Vendors needed to be out of the lot by 1 p.m., to free up parking spaces for beachgoers. With reluctance from a few council members and the mayor over the mid-town location, the council agreed to approve the move to 65th Street, in hopes of promoting downtown in the mid-town sector.
The flea market discussion continued this week however, with the request from Business License Inspector Rich Mason over whether to waive the business license fees again this year. The yearly fee is $114 or $8 a day.
“We’re moving to a new location, we have no idea what that’s going to produce,” said Councilman Jim Hall, who requested that the council waive the business license fee for one more year to allow the flea market a chance to grow and thrive.
Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out the other merchants throughout town, who pay significant fees to be able to operate a business in Ocean City.
“I think that right from the beginning we should do things the right way. I really don’t think this is a very big cost at all,” he said.
“I agree with the mayor. We had this discussion last year – this is a very small fee to set up a booth to make money,” said Council member Margaret Pillas.
“Sometimes free is not good,” said Council member Mary Knight, agreeing that a fee should be enforced. “It’s not, in my mind, fair not to charge something.”
Hall explained that while organizers expect success at the new location, a few weeks would still be needed to secure vendors and get a steady flow of customers.
“At the very least, give us ‘til the middle of the summer to try it,” said Hall.
The council agreed to waive the license fee until July 1, at which point the standard fee will be enforced.