Friday, Aug 20–New Taxi Medallion System Raises Off-Season Questions

OCEAN CITY — As the
final payments for the taxi medallions came in this week, the town started
looking ahead to how the new medallion system was going to impact the annual
scaling back of cab fleets on Ocean City’s streets.

Each year, after the
tourists leave town and the population deflates from Maryland’s third largest
city to a small town once again, cab companies, just like many other local
businesses, start to scale back their workforce and their deployments on the
roads, since there isn’t enough business to sustain all the cabs that were on
the road in the summer months.

Historically, many cab
companies simply took those cars off the road, cancelled the insurance policies
on those cars and turned in their tags until the following April, when they
would get that car inspected and licensed through the city.

Now, with the new
medallion law in place, cabbies are uncertain what the city will require them
to do, since the law clearly states that a purchased medallion must be attached
to a car that is on the road.

“When the medallion sale
happened in March, there were some companies that didn’t buy as many as they
were entitled to because they didn’t believe that they could take them off the

road,” said Classic Taxi owner Christy Freeman.  “For instance, one owner only bought five when he was entitled to

seven because he knew that he couldn’t sustain seven cars on the road all year
long.”

City Clerk Kathy Mathias
said on Wednesday that the town is trying to figure out how the off-season is
going to look in regards to the taxi industry, but she said she believes that
it will be a simple fix.

“The code allows for the
medallions to be turned into the city while the cars are off the road, but the
city will simply hold the medallions for the companies until April when they
get their cars re-inspected and they pay their renewal fees for their
medallions,” said Mathias.

Freeman said that she
and others in the industry were notified of the town’s new off-season strategy
and says it’s just another example of the town “making the rules up as they go
along.”

“The way it was
explained to us when we bought them was that whatever you buy as far as
medallions go, you have to sustain them year round,” said Freeman. “So, for
them to change their mind once again is just unfair and wrong.”

Mathias reported that
once the final payments came in, the town made $265,525 total from the taxi
medallion law, and will make about $85,000 annually from renewal fees based on
the $500 fee for the 170 medallions that are on the proverbial road currently.

In March, the town sold
175 medallions, but seized five since then, and will be holding them until a
later date.

“Most of the medallions
we took back were because people couldn’t get the cars on the road in time,
except for the very public one that was taken back from the fraudulent
transaction between Classic and Century Taxi,” said Mathias.

Freeman and Century
owner Ken Hovance had transferred a medallion for $1 in April, but the council
found it to be a fraudulent transaction, and deemed the move as a blatant
attempt to slap the city in the face since the city is supposed to get 25% of
each transfer fee.

As a result, the council
voted to ensure a minimum requirement for a transfer fee (for the city’s take)
at $500.

Mathias said that 60
percent of the medallion money was allotted to last fiscal year in the sum of
$157,500 with the remaining 40 percent of that money (or $105,000) is set to be
put into the current fiscal year budget.

 

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