Council Hears Ocean City License Plate Proposal

OCEAN CITY – The Town of Ocean could soon be seeing its name and logo on license plates throughout the resort and across the State of Maryland, as the idea for Town of Ocean City license plates moves forward.

Purchasing Director Joe Sobczak presented the City Council with the idea at Tuesday’s work session at City Hall, explaining the feasibility of the project.

Organizational plates are currently available through the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) for a wide variety of organizations, groups, schools and so forth. Non-logo organizational plates cost an additional $15, while logo plates cost an additional $25, over the standard $50 registration fee.

Currently, several local organizations offer organizational tags through the MVA. Local schools, the Ocean City Beach Patrol, local fire companies, the University of Maryland and the Surfrider Foundation are just a few of the local membership tags that can be purchased.

“We can in fact do this, there are some guidelines that must be followed,” said Sobczak of the organization license plates.

To establish organizational plates, all applications would have to be approved by and submitted by an authorized Town of Ocean City representative. The tags could be logo or non-logo, with artwork for the logo supplied by the town at the town’s expense. The logo would have to meet the approval of the MVA. “Ocean City, Maryland” could also be displayed at the bottom of the plate.

Sobczak presented a few of the issues or questions that would need to be addressed before making any major decisions.

“Do we want to do a logo tag, and if so what should that logo be,” he questioned.

“I thought that if we did this we’d have to do a logo tag,” said Council member Nancy Howard, suggesting the Town of Ocean City blue and white wave logo.

“Their should be some sort of committee to come up with this,” said Council President Joe Mitrecic of the logo, pointing out that people would invariably have differing opinions on the matter.

“I think we ought to be consistent with our logo,” said Howard.

Sobczak also questioned whom the plates would be available to, asking whether the council wished to limit the organizational plates to employee vehicles only or allow any interested persons to purchase the plates.

The council suggested limiting the plates to people with the 21842 area code or property owners in town, but rethought the notion after considering the number of renters, vacationers and second-home owners who might be interested in displaying the tags on their vehicles.

Administrative and financial implications are also a concern. The application process through the Town of Ocean City would be time consuming for the chosen representative, however an additional fee, over the $25 fee, could be tacked on with the revenues going to the town, as many organizations currently do.

“I would want to make sure we recap how long it would take our people,” said Council member Mary Knight.

 “I’d like to see us give this thing a try,” said Howard. “We’re trying to be proactive with advertising … this would be great advertising for us across the state.”

City Solicitor Guy Ayres pointed out that the MVA application form, presented by Sobczak, requires a membership list from the organization, essentially spelling out who would be eligible for the plates. Ayres questioned how, beyond the town-owned vehicles, they would be able to establish a membership list if the tags were available to the general public.

“I would suggest we have Joe [Sobczak] write a letter to the MVA with the proposed program for their review and direction and hopefully approval,” said City Manager Dennis Dare.

The council voted unanimously to submit the proposal for the public purchase of the organizational plates to the MVA.