OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week agreed to relax some of the fees associated with charitable event next month involving a parade of jeeps fundraiser.
The Mayor and Council had before them on Monday a request to approve a special event involving Ocean City Jeep Club and the Toys for Tots program. The event calls for as many as 150 Jeeps entering the beach at the Inlet and driving to the Kite Loft on the Boardwalk at 5th Street.
From there, the participating Jeeps will drop off mounds of toys collected during the fundraising effort, take a few pictures and return the same way they came in. The whole event, set to begin on Nov. 18 at 3 p.m., would take about two hours or so. The event has occurred in the past and there is no disputing its value, but before the council could approve it, there was considerable debate about the waiver of some of the fees associated with it.
“Last year, we had 50 Jeeps,” The Kite Loft owner Jay Knerr said. “I put in the application up to 150 jeeps, but, realistically, the number is probably more like 75 to 100. It’s a really great event. They’re hoping to double the amount of toys donated this year.”
To that end, Knerr asked the council to relax some of the special event fees associated with the event. For example, beyond the standard $62 fee for non-profit organizations was another fee totaling nearly $500 to cover the cost of providing beach patrol support. Councilman John Gehrig said he had no qualms about relaxing the fees for the event, but questioned why a parade of Jeeps for about two hours on a Sunday afternoon in November would require nine beach patrol employees.
“That’s one beach patrol person for every 16 to 17 vehicles,” he said.
Councilman Dennis Dare said he supported the event for a variety of reasons.
“The Jeeps come in August and they’re wonderful,” he said. “This is not H2Oi. They’re not here to disrupt anything.”
However, Dare had some reservations about relaxing the special event fees for this event or any others.
“The first time you start forgiving fees, you are going to have similar requests every time,” he said. “We’ve just worked really hard to get these fees to the point they are now where the taxpayers aren’t paying for these services.”
After some debate, Gehrig made a motion, which was approved, to reduce the requested nearly $500 in fees to cover the beach patrol support to a maximum of $100 and have the staff make the appropriate adjustments in personnel at that rate.
“I think we need to have the staff figure out how to get this down to $100 with the resources we have,” he said. “This is not about discounting fees. We’ve worked long and hard to get these fees where they need to be.”