OCEAN CITY — It certainly didn’t take long, but it also didn’t surprise anyone.
Just one day after the town sold all 175 taxi medallions last week at $1,500 a pop, one found its way to the web on the popular site Craigslist for $2,000.
The ad pitches the medallion as “a once in a lifetime opportunity to start a taxi business in Ocean City”, and was essentially targeted to the handful of people who left City Hall empty handed on March 1, saying “if you missed out of getting a medallion, I have one for OC Maryland Independent Medallion for sale.”
There was speculation leading up to the sale of the medallions amongst City Council members that the town needed to ensure that extra medallions were not simply scooped up by wealthy proprietors and seemingly flipped and/or scalped for a profit.
As a result, the town placed into the ordinance a section that would allow no one to sell the medallion until the medallion was paid for in full, and the medallion had to be attached to a vehicle within 30 days after purchase.
Simply put, even if the medallion were to sell on the Internet, which as of press time on Thursday was still posted, the buyer would have to have a car inspected and on the road 30 days after the original purchase of the medallion on March 1.
However, according to Kathy Mathias, who is transitioning between positions as assistant to the city manager and city clerk, a few of the medallions were paid in full on March 1, while the majority took the financing option of 10 percent for March and April, and then 20 percent each month until final payment is due Aug. 15.
As word spread of the first medallion for sale, the council members were able to say “I told you so”, albeit in a subtle way.
“I don’t think it’s surprising at all,” said Councilman Doug Cymek. “We said that they were going to add value to the taxi business and already the price is up to $2,000 after one day. I imagine those things are going to be worth five times that in a few years.”
In addition, the town will get 25 percent of the sale of any medallion in a “transfer fee”, meaning that if the medallion sold on the Internet for $2,000, the town would take $125 of the $500 profit the seller seeks to make.
The “for sale” medallion also created a bit of conversation at the Police Commission meeting on Wednesday, as commissioners took turns questioning City Solicitor Guy Ayres that all sections of the taxi medallion ordinance had covered the town’s best interests.
According to Christy Freeman, owner of Classic Taxi, now that people have acquired medallions, there is still a bit of concern on how those medallions are going to be used.
“Some people bought medallions without having cars, meters, top lights for their cars and they have no clue how to put them all together in 30 days,” said Freeman. “So the word on the street is that some people are going to try and lease them to other people.”
Ayres said that regardless of who is driving the taxi with the registered medallion, the owner of that medallion is still liable for any violations regardless of whether they are personally driving the cab.
Council President Joe Mitrecic feels confident that the town has covered all its proverbial bases with the taxi ordinance.
“I feel very comfortable with what we passed concerning the taxis, and I am hopeful that we thought about every aspect of it,” said Mitrecic, “but as with any business, there is always going to be someone who is looking for a way around the rules and they will spend a ton of time trying to dodge them, rather than simply just following them.”