OCEAN CITY — The taxicab medallion debate has proven to provide a barrage of tense moments, passionate arguments, and some notable quotations and sound bites. Here is a sampling of some of those from Monday nights’ Mayor and Council meeting:
"It’s going to pain me to say this and I know no one in here wants me to say it, but I think the mayor had a great idea with the medallion system. But, when you guys said $1,500 I almost fell out of my chair. But if my medallion’s going to be worth money to somebody else five years down the road and I want to sell it, then you’re on the right track."
OC Taxi owner Carl Kufchak
“Are we sure that we are giving them enough money to pay for the additional cost of the medallion with this rate raise, because their costs are up all across the board.”
Councilwoman Margaret Pillas
“These guys have been driving on the old rates for several years and after looking at what the other resorts are charging for cab fare, and looking at how we have been raising parking lot fees all over town, I think it’s fair to keep the medallion fee and the renewal fee as is, but raise the rates a little bit.”
Councilman Jim Hall
“Although we appreciate the opportunity to pay the medallion fee off in several payments, I think all these new costs are a little bit high. The $500 renewal fee per car is really going to hit us hard, and you have to remember, the slots aren’t here yet, so right now, the money just isn’t out there.”
Beach Taxi owner Norman Mallinix, Jr.
“The timing of when we are applying these new charges is what worries me. The leanest months of the year business wise for them is the first two months when we are calling for 20-percent of the medallion cost. I propose that we have them put up 10 percent in each of the first two months, and then 20 percent each month through August.”
Councilman Joe Hall.
“I was against the medallion system from the start, and so I’m also not in support of the increase in fees. I can’t justify spending money on something I don’t see as an asset, especially when you guys, who know nothing of how to run the cab business are trying to tell us that this change will help us.”
AboutTown Taxi owner Ruth Carpenter
“We have the cheapest per mile fee of all the resorts, and maybe even the country, so at least give us the $2.40 per mile. In the winter, locals always get a break in rates from us, but in the summer, the tourists don’t care what they pay because they are here to spend money. They won’t care.”
Niteclub Taxi owner Michael Pawlowski
“I don’t think I agree with your philosophies, sir, as we do care what the tourists are charged to ride in a taxicab in this resort. I think this council has gone over and above trying to work with you guys and I think that’s evident when you look at how much this ordinance has been changed.”
Mayor Rick Meehan (in response to Pawlowski’s comments)
“The bees’ nest was whacked with this ordinance, and we are all scrambling to try and make this work for us so we can stay in business.”
Classic Taxi owner Christy Freeman
“This might be a little bit of a hard pill to swallow today, but if I had the chance to limit the amount of contractors in the town of Ocean City to a certain number, that I wouldn’t have to compete against any other ones, I would pay dearly for that."
Council President Joe Mitrecic, who owns a local construction company
“We’ve been told tonight that we don’t know how to run the cab business, but I don’t think any of you know how to run a tourism business or a city. It takes an awful lot of expense to keep the roads in order so your cars can even be on the road, and an awful lot of money to draw people to Ocean City so that there’s people here to get into your cars.”
Mayor Rick Meehan
“Last year, I did an average of 15.6 fares a day for 150 days at $7.43 an average fare. If you raise it as proposed that would give me an additional $885, but if you were to leave the initial cost at $3 and raise the per mile fee to $2.40, that would be $1,320 in additional funds.”
Info Taxi owner Rubin Ortega
“I need a rate increase. Five years ago, I got $2.50 a mile and the guy behind me was charging almost $4. People pay $8 for a drink and $300 for a hotel room and don’t blink an eye, but I know what people think of us.”
Independent cab owner Ronald Cecil
“I hope that with this additional $80,000 that we are going to get from renewal fees, we will look into getting an inspector to enforce the rules, and ensure quality of service.”
Councilwoman Mary Knight.
"We’ve taken the taxicab business from where anybody can have a car and a cell phone and be in the cab business, to where we are going now. It does nothing but benefit the taxicab drivers of the town of Ocean City. In two years, I think you’ll be thanking us."
Council President Joe Mitrecic