Winter Taxi Rules Debated

OCEAN CITY – Taxi owners are now allowed to deactivate their cab medallions once a year with no fee according to the amended ordinance.

Last February, the Mayor and City Council approved the final reading of an ordinance that installed a $1,500 taxi medallion required to operate a cab in Ocean City and a $500 annual renewal fee. In addition, the taxi companies are required to keep their cabs clean, random drug tests will be conducted on drivers and the town will have correspondence with the companies insurance provider to ensure no lapses in their coverage.

Now, with the new medallion ordinance in place, cabbies were uncertain what the city was going to require them to do since the law plainly states medallions must remain attached to the car that is on the road.  Some cab owners limited themselves by not buying as many medallions as they were permitted because of this uncertainty.

The code allows medallions to be turned in while the cars are off the road. The city will hold onto them until April, when the cars get re-inspected and pay for their re-newel fee.

At this week’s Mayor and City Council meeting, an amendment of the medallion ordinance was voted on and approved on first reading. The amendment states, “A taxicab medallion may be deactivated by its holder and stored at City Hall for a maximum of six months in a one year cycle. A taxicab medallion may be deactivated and reactivated one time with no fee charged, however any additional deactivation and reactivation will be subject to an administrative fee of $100.00 per vehicle per additional reactivation.”

Some taxi owners bring their cabs out of storage during the winter for the holiday seasons, resulting in a re-activiation of their medallion twice a year.

Guy R. Ayres, Ocean City’s Town Attorney said, “After some discussion with the cab companies, some of them do it twice a year. So, this will allow them to do it, but any time they do it after one time, there’s an administrative fee.”

Council member Jim Hall made the motion and Councilmember Mary Knight seconded it. The amendment was passed in first reading in a unanimous vote.

Nonetheless, some on the Council wanted to make sure the town didn’t foot the bill for getting the cabs back on the road. Councilman Doug Cymek said the year before the medallions were installed inspection fees were around $24,000 and that wasn’t nearly enough to cover the costs for the cabs.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the enforcement of the cabs,” he said.